SSEN Transmission has submitted planning applications for a new substation at Dalchork and the installation of new overhead lines between there and the existing substation at Loch Buidhe.

The planning applications consist of a Section 37 application to the Scottish Government for the erection of the overhead lines and associated transmission towers, and a Town and Country Planning application to the Highland Council for the construction of the Dalchork substation.

The project is required to support the connection of new renewable electricity generators looking to connect to the transmission system across the north of Scotland, helping facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy.

The main elements of SSEN Transmission’s proposed development are:

  • Construction and operation of a new substation, located within Dalchork Wood, approximately 3km north of Lairg;
  • Construction and operation of 1km of 132kV overhead line to connect the proposed Dalchork substation to the existing overhead network;
  • Construction and operation of 16km of 132kV overhead line between the proposed Dalchork substation and Loch Buidhe substation; and
  • On commissioning of the above, the existing 132kV overhead lines between Lairg Grid Supply Point (GSP) substation, at Lairgmuir, and Shin Substation, at Inveran, will be decommissioned and removed.

Since November 2013, when it held its first public consultation, SSEN Transmission has been working closely with the local community, landowners, elected members, statutory authorities and specialist consultants to develop its proposals for the construction of this infrastructure. 

Most recently, a pre-application consultation event was hosted in Lairg last May and provided interested parties with the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed development.

SSEN Transmission has factored into its design the feedback received throughout the consultation process, including the following measures:

  • The substation location has been moved 3km north of Lairg into woodland due to concerns raised regarding proximity to residential dwellings.
  • The overhead line alignment has been moved to the east of Lairg due to concerns raised regarding proximity to residential dwellings, whilst also minimising any potential for effect to protected bird species associated with environmental designated sites.

As the voltage of the line has reduced from 275kV to 132kV, the height of transmission towers has been reduced from between 44-60m to between 25-40m, further reducing its impact on the local community. 

SSEN Transmission believes its proposals represent the optimum solution for the proposed development, avoiding residential areas as far as possible whilst minimising the impact on local environmental designations.

As well as supporting the growth in renewable energy across the region, the upgrade will also help maintain a safe and reliable supply of electricity across the region.

SSEN Transmission’s Lead Project Manager, Paul Higginbotham, explains more:

"This upgrade is essential to support the growth in renewables across the north of Scotland as we continue to decarbonise our energy system. 

 "As a responsible developer, we believe that it is essential to seek public opinion on our proposals and take that feedback into consideration, where possible, when developing our projects.

"Our proposals consider a wide range of factors, from feedback received from the local community, landowners and other stakeholders which has directly influenced the projects design, to the need to balance the impact of our infrastructure on key environmental designations. 

"We believe our proposals balance the range of factors we need to consider in the development of our major infrastructure projects and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the project to date."

Further information regarding the Lairg - Loch Buidhe project can be obtained from the dedicated project webpage: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/lairg-loch-buidhe/.

Any representations regarding the overhead line Section 37 application should be submitted via the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit www.energyconsents.scot/Register.aspx; by email to representations@gov.scot or by post, to The Scottish Government, Energy Consents Unit, 4th Floor, 5 Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, Glasgow, G2 8LU, identifying the proposal and specifying the grounds for representation.

Any representations regarding the Dalchork Substation Town and Country planning application may be submitted to The Highland Council via their planning portal: https://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/.

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