Power line green light amid Tarbert opposition

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As Scottish Ministers gave consent for a new upgraded Argyll power line, the region’s MSP has again voiced opposition to plans for new, taller pylons close to Tarbert.

Consent was last week granted to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Transmission for the replacement of the Inveraray-Crossaig overhead electricity transmission power line. The existing line, which installed in the 1950s is reaching the end of its operational life.

The new line, which will initially operate at 132kV, will have the capacity to be upgraded to 275kV in the future.

A number of conditions are attached to consent, including the requirement for SSEN Transmission to submit details of proposed mitigation for local landscape impacts of the project at both the Crinan Canal and where the line passes Tarbert.

SSEN lead project manager, Ian Clark, said: ‘We are pleased the Scottish Government has provided consent for the replacement of the Inveraray-Crossaig transmission line.

‘We now look forward to working closely with the local communities and other interested parties throughout the construction phase and as a responsible developer, we will do everything we can to keep disruption to an absolute minimum.

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has concerns, shared with many Tarbert residents, about the impact of new pylons on the village’s scenic value.

Mr Russell has previously met with the company and discussed the possibility of the line being placed underground or on the bed of West Loch Tarbert.

He said: ‘I held a surgery in Tarbert last week and it is clear that the community remains resolutely opposed to the plans by SSE to create a massive blot on the landscape which will be visible from miles around, particularly from the sea approach to both the East and West lochs.

‘I have seen the permission document and it is obvious that the Scottish Government is also worried about this situation. While no-one is opposing it in its entirety  we have to realise that the company will make a great deal of money out of the new route and they must  therefore ensure that it does not devalue the village of Tarbert and those who live there.’

Mr Russell has written to the company to seek another meeting to resolve the issue.

The new line will be built in two phases – the first from Inveraray to Port Ann, with work on this section scheduled to begin in the coming months and be completed towards the end of 2021.

The second phase, from Port Ann to Crossaig, is expected to begin in 2021 and is due to be completed in summer 2024.