The Highland Council objected to our S37 application for the Gills Bay overhead line project on the grounds of visual impact in January 2017.
The application was then referred to the Scottish Government’s Department for Environment and Planning Appeals (DPEA) who allocated a Scottish Government Reporter to consider the application further through an inquiry. This has been completed with consent being subsequently granted in July 2019.
The project is now progressing; however, due to a change in background demand over time, we have undertaken a review of the project need. The result is that a re-design of the proposed substation at Gills Bay is required. The site will become a Switching Station as it is no longer required to house any 33 kV elements and associated transformers, therefore reducing in size and scope.
Once this design has been completed, we shall be applying for new Planning Consent for this revised switching station in early 2021.
Since the winter of 2010, we have been developing proposals for a new high voltage electricity overhead line in the Gills Bay area. The development has been prompted by proposed and contracted marine and wind renewable generators requiring connection to the main transmission network. There is no existing network in the area capable of accommodating this additional generation.
To provide the capacity needed, a combination of a new 132kV double circuit overhead line and underground cable is proposed between the recently constructed 275/132kV substation south of Thurso (Thurso South) and a new substation proposed at Philips Mains, south of Gills Bay (Gills Bay substation).
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The data in this map is provided for indicative purposes only and may be subject to change. Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc do not accept responsibility for its accuracy, completeness or validity. The data should not be copied, reproduced or utilised externally without permission.
Investments in projects are made by SHE Transmission plc. Electricity transmission companies are authorised to recover the costs of such investments through 'use of system' charges which are levied by National Grid Electricity Transmission plc on generators and suppliers of electricity. Suppliers recover their costs from all electricity customers. In order to protect the interests of customers, the transmission companies have to demonstrate to the energy regulator, Ofgem (Office for Gas and Electricity Markets) that proposed investments are necessary, are efficient and are economical so that the charges which are ultimately levied on all electricity customers are justified.
This means SHE Transmission is subject to a funding mechanism established by Parliament and regulated by Ofgem. Cross subsidies between different businesses in the SSE group is not permitted.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is the trading name of Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution Limited, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution plc and Southern Electric Power Distribution plc.
The Scottish Ministers are responsible for determination of applications submitted under Section 37 of the Electricity Act 1989. Both statutory consultees and members of the public have the right to submit their representations on the application. All representations will be considered by Scottish Ministers in their determination of the application.
The Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), as the regulator, has to approve all investment so project proposals are developed under license conditions.
Preferred route corridors chosen will comply with revised ‘Holford Rules’ which are the recognised industry approach to routeing overhead lines amended to reflect Scottish circumstances.
The Holford Rules originated in 1959 as the result of work by Lord Holford, a part-time member of the Central Electricity Generating Board (National Grid's predecessor). The Holford Rules have been augmented by both National Grid and SHE Transmission plc to reflect environmental legislation and best practice in recent years. We have continued to use them as a valuable set of guidelines for reducing the impact of our assets on landscapes.
The guidance recommends appropriate application of the Holford Rules to inform routeing. These rules advocate the application of a hierarchical approach to routeing which first avoids major areas of highest amenity, then smaller areas of high amenity, and finally considers factors such as backdrop, woodland and orientation. The Holford Rules apply the term ‘amenity’ to refer to environmental designations and classifications such as Natura 2000 sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Scheduled Monuments, Listed Buildings, National Parks.
The guidance also recognises that the key effect of overhead lines is visual and it advises that the routeing of overhead lines should consider the types of mitigation (screening) that could offset any visual effects.
In their National Policy Statement EN-5, the Government has stated that the Holford Rules “should be followed by developers when designing their proposals.” Their use is therefore Government policy, rather than a voluntary choice of SHE Transmission plc.
SHE Transmission are regulated by the Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the regulator responsible for representing consumers' interests. Electricity consumer interests are therefore one of our key drivers and this is enshrined in our statutory duties under the Electricity Act.
In particular we have a statutory duty to develop, maintain and operate an efficient, economic and co-ordinated transmission system. Since the costs of these projects will ultimately be paid for by electricity consumers, we have a responsibility to take cost into account with due weighting in a comparison against other important factors.
It’s the highest voltage electricity network in the UK – the ‘motorway network’ of the energy world. It transmits large quantities of electricity over long distances via wires carried on a system of mainly metal towers (pylons) and large substations. Transmission voltages in Scotland are 132kV, 275kV and 400kV. Larger generation schemes usually connect to the Transmission system.
The lower voltage parts of the system are called distribution networks. In Scotland, these local networks operate below 132kV whereas in England the distribution network includes 132kV.
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