There have been further calls for Scottish Power to bury new power cables making up the Beauly-Denny power line but Scottish Power has again rejected the move.
Utility Exchange has reported in the past that campaigners have called on Scottish Power to bury the power lines and in March the Scottish Government asked Scottish Power to look at “unexplored options” in order to reduce the visual impact of the scheme.
However, Scottish Power has again said that it would be too expensive to bury power lines underground and it would also lead to delays with “limited environmental benefits”.
Scottish Power’s response has been described as farcical by campaigners who want the company to bury the power cables.
The upgrade to the power line was granted permission in January 2010 but the Scottish Government asked Scottish Power to come up with plans to reduce the visual impact of the power cable. The new power line will be made up of 600 pylons and will connect sources of renewable energy, mostly generated from wind farms, to the National Grid.
While it’s unlikely there will ever be cheap electricity again Scotland wants to go green and get all of its electricity from sources of renewable energy. As wholesale gas prices rise, it’s hoped that this move towards renewable energy should help to keep the cost of energy down in the long run.
There have been a number of weird and wonderful suggestions for reducing the impact of the pylons from painting them a darker shade so they are not so obvious to planting vegetation to screen them. The Energy Minister at the time, Jim Mather, asked Scottish Power to consider burying the power line.
Scottish Power however, said that to bury the line would mean a delay of up to three years and increase costs which would have to be passed on to the consumer.
A report by Scottish Power said “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. 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”.
The chief executive officer of Scottish Power, Frank Mitchell, said “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”.
He added “On this basis, Scottish Power 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”.
The campaign group Stirling Before Pylons said the new power line would already be up and running if Scottish Power had listened several years ago. Caroline Paterson from the group said “Maybe it will take slightly longer to underground at this stage. But Scottish Power have resisted and resisted all along. Obviously that does cost, but it’s of their own making. I think there are serious questions to be asked if the Scottish government approve it with no changes. They asked for changes and they’ve not happened”.
The Scottish Government is set to make a decision on the power line after discussions with Stirling Council but it looks like Scottish Power will get the go-ahead for the new power line without having to go underground.