SSEN seeks funding to underground existing transmission infrastructure in Cairngorms National Park
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has submitted two funding applications to Ofgem which aim to reduce the visual impact of SSEN’s existing transmission infrastructure in two locations within the Cairngorms National Park.
If approved, the schemes would replace 12km of overhead line and 46 existing transmission towers near the villages of Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge with underground cabling.
The schemes would reduce the visual impact of SSEN’s transmission infrastructure in an area where it can be seen by the largest number of visitors to the National Park, building on the removal of over 300 towers, covering a distance of over 90km, as part of the Beauly Denny project.
The electricity and gas markets regulator, Ofgem, is responsible for administering a £500m fund for GB electricity transmission owners to mitigate the impact of existing electricity infrastructure in National Parks and National Scenic Areas. In response to Ofgem’s funding opportunity, SSEN is taking forward a number of engineering and landscaping proposals across its network region as part of its VISTA (Visual Impact of Scottish Transmission Assets) project.
Subject to Ofgem approval, SSEN’s first Cairngorm VISTA proposal would remove 15 steel lattice towers and approximately 4km of overhead line between Docharn and the Boat of Garten substation. The second scheme would remove a further 31 steel lattice towers and approximately 8km of overhead line between the Boat of Garten substation and Craigmore Wood, to the north of Nethy Bridge.
Commenting on the submission Euan Smith, who is leading SSEN’s Project VISTA, said:
“We are delighted to have submitted our Cairngorms National Park VISTA proposals to Ofgem for consideration.
“If regulatory funding is approved for both schemes, this innovative project will result in the removal of an additional 46 historic transmission towers within the National Park’s boundary covering a combined distance of 12km.
“We would like to thank all of those who have inputted into the development process so far and look forward to continued engagement with Ofgem and other interested stakeholders as we seek to further improve the visual impact of our existing infrastructure in Scotland’s most valuable landscapes.”
Grant Moir CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority said:
“We have been working with SSE on these projects and are pleased to see that these applications have now been submitted. They will build on the good work that has already taken place following the construction of the Beauly to Denny line, where some 300 towers were taken down within the Cairngorms National Park. The projects will result in nearly all the line in Strathspey being removed and it will make a significant improvement to the visual impact of the landscapes for the millions of visitors who come to the National Park every year.”
The development of SSEN’s VISTA proposals has been informed through extensive stakeholder engagement, from local communities and statutory stakeholders, to the representative bodies of Scotland’s National Parks, including the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Today’s submission follow’s SSEN’s recent VISTA application in October for a landscaping scheme at Loch Tummel. SSEN is also considering a landscaping proposal for Loch Rannoch and is taking forward two further engineering proposals in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
As part of construction of the replacement Beauly-Denny Transmission line, SSEN agreed to a number of planning conditions which included the removal of over 300 transmission steel towers, covering a distance of over 90km, from the Cairngorms National Park. This work is now complete, delivering a lasting legacy for current and future generations. Approval of SSEN’s two Cairngorm VISTA schemes would see almost all historical overhead transmission infrastructure removed from the National Park.
To find out more about SSEN’s VISTA project please visit: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/sustainability-and-environment/vista/