Home   News   Article

SSEN staff received threats over Caithness to Beauly power line plans, firm claims

By Gregor White

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Powerline proposals include plans for major new infrastructure (inset) at Beauly.
Powerline proposals include plans for major new infrastructure (inset) at Beauly.

An electricity company says some of its staff have faced "verbal abuse and physical threats" over plans for a 400 kV overhead transmission line stretching between Caithness and Inverness-shire.

SSEN Transmission has encountered criticism in some communities over the extent of consultation on its proposals for a new line from Spittal to Beauly.

The electricity giant has now published an "initial response" to plans for the power line which runs via Loch Buidhe in Sutherland.

Horrified residents along parts of the route have hit out at the plans, while SSEN has extended the deadline for responses to the proposal from March 31 to April 14.

Its initial response is to the feedback it has received to date. Within that document is a claim that its staff have come under attack over the proposals.

"Regrettably, there have been several examples of verbal abuse and physical threats of a personal nature directed towards members of our team," the response states.

"This type of behaviour will not be condoned and, if necessary, will be reported to the relevant authorities.

"We remain committed to an open and inclusive approach to stakeholder engagement throughout the development and delivery of all of our critical national infrastructure projects and will consider all feedback from those who are seeking to constructively engage in the process."

It adds: "Whilst we fully accept that our proposals will have an impact on the landscape and local communities and understand not everyone will be accepting of this, we are committed to work with those willing to engage in an appropriate and constructive way to help minimise these impacts."

As well as a new power line the proposals include plans for new High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) converter stations at both Spittal and Beauly, which it says it wants to co-locate with new substations "in part to reduce their cumulative impacts and to minimise the amount of new infrastructure required to connect them to the existing transmission network."

It argues that the planned work is necessary.

"These projects, alongside several other major network upgrades planned in the north of Scotland, are part of a GB wide programme of works that are required to meet UK and Scottish Government energy targets and there is a clear expectation from government and the energy regulatory, Ofgem, that these projects will be delivered by 2030," it states.

"More specifically, these projects are needed to deliver government 2030 renewable targets and follow the publication in April 2022 of the UK government’s British Energy Security Strategy (BESS)."

And it adds: "We would like to take this opportunity to respond to feedback received indicating there is a perception that proposals for overhead lines are only being pursued on financial grounds and that overhead lines are more profitable.

"The cost of investing in the electricity transmission network is ultimately paid for by GB electricity consumers and it is therefore important that cost is a key consideration. However, it is not the case that overhead solutions are being progressed solely on financial grounds, or that they are more profitable for SSEN Transmission.

"As a regulated business, the return on investment, or profit, SSEN Transmission can make is set by Ofgem as part of its regulatory framework, regardless of the technology employed.

"In relation to the call for the use of underground cabling, there are a number of environmental, technical, and operational constraints associated with undergrounding at extra high voltages, particularly at 400 kV, which make this option extremely challenging to deliver in many areas of Scotland.

"Underground cabling is highly sensitive to ground conditions and terrain. There can be significant and lasting environmental impacts and future land use constraints associated with undergrounding; together with the technical challenges of operating, maintaining and in restoring power in the event of a fault.

"It is also acknowledged that undergrounding is considerably more expensive, both to install and maintain, the costs of which will be borne by GB consumers."

The full response can be read here

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More