A public consultation on SP Energy Networks’ proposals to upgrade the electricity network in Dumfries and Galloway came to an end this week (Monday 31st August).
Now project staff on the Dumfries and Galloway Strategic Reinforcement Project will start the task of analysing every single one of the more than 1,500 forms, letters and emails they have received from interested parties.
A detailed consultation report will be published on the project website www.spendgsr.co.uk later this year.
SP Energy Networks’ project manager for the scheme Colin Brown said that, although the scheme was essential to modernise and upgrade Dumfries and Galloway’s ageing and under-sized electricity transmission network, the views of local people were critical.
The first round of consultation asked people’s views of the broad corridor of land the firm thinks might be best for a possible new overhead electricity line between Auchencrosh, on the South Ayrshire coast, and Harker, near Carlisle, in Cumbria. Broad potential siting areas for four new substations at Auchencrosh, Newton Stewart, Glenlee and Dumfries were also part of the consultation.
“Even though it’s at a very early stage, this is a big project and we need to know what people think. The response has been very encouraging. After sending out more than 14,000 leaflets and the same number of letters, we have met more than 700 people face-to-face at ten public exhibitions between Barrhill and Longtown, plus many more who have attended community council meetings.
“To make sure we develop the scheme with local concerns and ideas firmly in mind, every word of the feedback we have received now needs to be scrutinised and we will respond as part of the consultation feedback report later this year,” he said.
The consultation, which started on June 8, was extended by five weeks at the request of local people to allow more time for them to comment. It is just the first of a number of opportunities people will get to influence the Dumfries and Galloway Strategic Reinforcement Project as it progresses.
The responses received will help SP Energy Networks decide which areas should go forward to the next stage of the routeing process. Depending on the outcome of this, as well as further technical and environmental studies, the company hopes to carry out a second round of consultation into a number of preferred line routes and substation sites next year.
“Until we’ve analysed the consultation responses and carried out more studies we don’t know if the areas we’ve identified are the right ones to take forward. It has prompted a lot of debate but we have an open mind and I am looking forward to finding out what people have told us,” added Colin.
Notes to editors
The Dumfries and Galloway Strategic Reinforcement Project aims to modernise the electricity network, making it more resilient for homes and businesses, as well as increasing capacity. Much of the existing 132,000 volt (132kV) system is coming towards the end of its operational life, and the project proposes a new high voltage overhead line of up to 400,000 volts (400kV) between Auchencrosh in South Ayrshire and Harker in Cumbria.
In other locations the company has plans to replace old 132kV power lines with new ones at the same voltage and, in certain locations, remove old power lines altogether. As part of the upgrade plans four new substations are also being proposed at Auchencrosh, Newton Stewart, Glenlee and Dumfries.
Consultation facts and stats
During the 12-week consultation, SP Energy Networks:
sent more than 14,000 leaflets to local homes and businesses
advertised in eight local newspapers
held ten public exhibitions
attended five local agricultural shows
attended six community council meetings
made information available at 12 public locations
received more than 1,500 individual pieces of feedback
received around 4,000 hits on the project website