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ScottishPower Submits Mitigation Proposals For Beauly To Denny Power Line

30/08/2011

ScottishPower has today submitted its Stirling Visual Impact Mitigation Scheme to Scottish Ministers for approval.  The scheme sets out the measures proposed to mitigate the landscape and visual impacts of the Beauly Denny overhead line in certain locations within the Stirling area.

In March 2011, at the request of the Energy Minister, ScottishPower and Stirling Council set up a Technical Group with experts representing each organisation to look again at options for further mitigation of the landscape and visual impact of the consented Beauly Denny line.  Nine meetings took place between April and June 2011. Twenty-three different mitigation options were evaluated by the Technical Group.

The Minister specified that the re-evaluation of mitigation proposals should address their cost, technical and planning aspects, potential environmental benefits and timescales for implementation. The re-evaluation was also to consider any delays to the Beauly Denny project, which was described as a crucial strategic development to Scotland's renewable energy ambitions.

The forms of mitigation examined by the joint Technical Group included possible undergrounding of the Beauly Denny 400kV overhead line, an alternative route section, the possible use of low height towers, possible undergrounding of the 132kV overhead line between Fallin and Glenbervie, planting/landscape reinforcement works, low voltage undergrounding and tower painting.

The evaluation concluded that any undergrounding of the main 400kV line cannot be justified on the grounds of cost, technical difficulties and very limited environmental benefits. Twelve different undergrounding options for the 400kV overhead line were re-examined, from 1.6km to over 17km in length. Undergrounding of any section of the 400kV overhead line would lead to a delay conservatively estimated at between two and three years given the need for further statutory and landowner consents. The delay would also generate significant constraint costs which would ultimately be placed on electricity consumers.

The company is therefore proposing to undertake extensive screen planting and hard and soft landscaping works and to underground a further 4.6 km of wood pole overhead lines, which could bring the total amount of other overhead lines being undergrounded to 11km. Tower painting is also proposed at two locations.

Ministers will now consult Stirling Council on the scheme for a period of 30 days.

Frank Mitchell, CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks said:

“This project has been in the consenting process since September 2005 and the overwhelming environmental, technical and financial case still supports the overhead line solution as approved. We have considered, in depth, every option available for the construction and mitigation of this strategically important power line and have consulted with all interested groups, from members of the public and community groups, to planning authorities, elected representatives and technical experts.”

“We believe that the revised Stirling Visual Impact Mitigation Scheme meets the terms of the condition placed on this project by the Scottish Government last year, and also fully reflects the outcome of the further process of engagement with Stirling Council.

“The period of further engagement with Stirling Council has identified the mitigation measures that ScottishPower believe will help minimise the landscape and visual impact of the overhead line on local communities and residents. On this basis, ScottishPower looks forward to a positive early response to the scheme in order that further delays in delivering this project of national importance can be avoided.”

Media information: Simon McMillan - 0141 566 4875 / 07753 622 257

Notes to Editors:

ScottishPower has been involved in the development of the Beauly Denny project since 2003.  The application for section 37 consent was lodged in September 2005 and following a year long Public Inquiry throughout 2007, Scottish Ministers approved the overhead line in January 2010 with a condition that further landscape and visual mitigation measures be developed.

An earlier version of the Stirling Visual Impact Mitigation Scheme was submitted in February 2011 but the Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism indicated that before the Government could formally consult Stirling Council there should be a 60 day period of engagement between ScottishPower and Stirling Council to consider measures and options the Minister indicated appeared not to have been fully explored.

The forms of mitigation examined by the joint Technical Group included possible undergrounding of the Beauly Denny 400kV overhead line, an alternative route section, the possible use of low height towers, possible undergrounding of the 132kV overhead line between Fallin and Glenbervie, planting/landscape reinforcement works, low voltage undergrounding and tower painting.

A total of twelve different underground options were considered for the overhead line, informed by experts in underground cable and overhead line technology and the routeing of overhead lines.  The options varied from a short section of 1.6 km to over 17 km.  However, ScottishPower has rejected these measures as none of the undergrounding options is considered to represent an efficient and economic development of the transmission system. Undergrounding even the shortest section would delay the Beauly Denny project by up to three years, impacting on the objectives of Scottish Government Energy Policy.  The delay would also result in very significant constraint costs.

The use of low height towers was also explored in three different locations including in front of the Wallace Monument.  Low height towers are approximately 10-15 metres lower than many standard towers although bulkier and wider.  There is no clear advantage to amenity from the use of low height towers although the case for their use is very finely balanced, particularly in front of the Wallace Monument.  Tower painting options were explored and two of these are included within the scheme.  Sections of low voltage undergrounding have also been included.

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