Project Type: Transmission reinforcement
Location: Highland

Contact Details

Lisa Marchi
Title: Community Liaison Manager
Telephone: 01463 728072
Mobile: 07825 015507
Address: 10 Henderson Road, Inverness, IV1 1SN
Status: Operational

Existing Network

The existing Beauly to Dounreay 275kV overhead transmission circuit runs for a distance of approx. 153km from Beauly substation in the South to Dounreay substation in the North and comprises a Western circuit which runs the full length from Beauly to Dounreay; and an Eastern circuit which originally ran from Beauly as far as the former tapping compound to Invergordon Smelter at Ardross.


Phase 1 Transmission Reinforcements

The Beauly-Dounreay Phase 1 Project commenced on site in October 2010 and involved the re-conductoring of the existing 275kV conductor between Beauly and Ardross; and installation of new conductors on the east side of the existing double circuit 275kV tower line from Ardross to Dounreay. This second circuit, running the full distance from Dounreay to Beauly, was completed early in 2013 and the project as a whole is now completed. 

Phase 2 Transmission Reinforcements

The Beauly-Dounreay Phase 2 reinforcements comprised:-

  • a new 275/132kV substation at Loch Buidhe;
  • a new 275/132kV substation at Fyrish; and
  • replacement of the existing 275kV conductor between Beauly and Loch Buidhe. 

The voltage of the line remains unchanged. In relation to the overhead line re-conductoring works no additional towers have been erected, nor has there been an increase in the height of existing towers and the new conductors look the same as the existing ones from ground level.

The new substations house switchgear and transformers to support the upgraded overhead line and allow capacity for renewable energy projects to be connected between Beauly and Dounreay. Connection of these new substations to the existing overhead lines have also involved localised amendments to overhead tower arrangements in the vicinity of the Fyrish and Loch Buidhe substations.

Loch Buidhe - 132kV energisation

SSEN Lead Project Manager, Daryn Lucas, provides insight into the remote site which is situated within a European designated protected area and the successful energisation of the 132kV air-insulated equipment at Loch Buidhe Substation as part of the £1.1billion Caithness-Moray project

Lairg Loch Buidhe Community Liaison Group


The Lairg to Loch Buidhe Project has recently submitted applications for a new substation at Dalchork and a new overhead line connecting this to the recently completed Loch Buidhe substation; as part of our planning submission we have included the establishment of a Community Liaison Group (CLG).

We have already set up and participated in CLGs across Scotland as part of some of our other construction projects, to ensure that the communities hosting these not only understand what is being undertaken but also, importantly, have the opportunity to work with us in a constructive manner.

We will establish the Lairg to Loch Buidhe CLG drawing on our experience gained from these previous construction projects which have used the CLG as the primary communication platform.

Initial Communication with the Community

Formation of the Lairg to Loch Buidhe CLG will require an initial meeting with the following:

  • Elected Members from The Highland Council’s  North, West and Central Sutherland Wards
  • Representatives from the Lairg Community Council
  • Members of the community residing within 2km of the development site.

We will write to these parties to both introduce and explain the purpose of the CLG, propose an initial meeting date and provide an agenda for the meeting.

We will contact the Elected Members and Community Council Chair to identify a suitable venue for the initial meeting and also a suitable date that does not conflict with other community affairs.

Structure and mechanism

The initial meeting will inform the Lairg community of the format and mechanism that the CLG will use during the construction and energisation phase of our project.


  • The CLG will require regular attendance from representatives of the Lairg community.
  • We would recommend that there are 1-2 members of the Lairg Community Council and 2-3 representatives from the wider community.
  • The wider community members should be nominated, or elected, by the wider community.
  • Attendance of Elected Highland Council Councillors to the CLG is important so they will also be invited.
  • There may be requirement to have attendance from parties such as The Highland Council Roads Department, Transport Scotland, and Forestry Commission as necessary.

Once established, the meetings will be open to all members of the Lairg Community.

Members of the CLG would have a responsibility to represent the wider community and relay information to the Community Council and wider community through existing communication channels. The initial meeting will also be used to confirm the mechanism on how information will be distributed.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Lairg to Loch Buidhe CLG please email



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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.

Who is Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks?

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.

How are Transmission network upgrades paid for?

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.

How are proposals scrutinised?

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.

What are The Holford Rules?

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.

How and to what extent are electricity consumers' interests considered?

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.

What is the transmission network?

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. 

Loch Buidhe Substation Successfully Energised

SSEN are pleased to announce the successful energisation of 132kV air-insulated equipment at Loch Buidhe substation. The works, which began on site in October 2014, are part of the Caithness – Moray project which represents the largest investment in the north of Scotland’s electricity network since the hydro development era of the 1950s. The 275kV element of the substation is now in its final stages and due to be energised at the beginning of the year.

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