Protest alliance appeals to Minister in Tarbert pylon row

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The furore over a power company’s plans to site huge pylons where they would puncture Tarbert’s skyline shows no sign of abating.

Community petitions have been submitted, people have protested and local politicians have objected to the plan by Scottish and Southern Energy Transmission (SSEN) to erect pylons close to the village.

Now several Tarbert groups have joined forces to speak with a single voice of opposition.

The towers would form just a small part of a major project to upgrade the electricity transmission network and build a higher capacity 275 kV overhead line for 50 miles between Inveraray and Crossaig substation on the east Kintyre coast.

In a new development, an influential alliance comprised of Tarbert and Skipness Community Council, Tarbert Castle Trust and Tarbert Harbour Authority has written to Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP setting out its objections.

Sent on Monday September 2, the letter points out that ‘a number of the 200 foot pylons will be visible from the majority of Tarbert’s housing areas’ with claims that much-needed new house building will be inhibited under the proposed power line at Eastfield and Oakhill.

The letter goes on: ‘There are also attendant concerns over the possible effects of any electromagnetic field on the health of residents in nearby housing.’

The group also has concerns over the impact the pylons might have on tourism and people visiting the area, claiming ‘four or five of the pylons would be visible on the western skyline’.

They write: ‘Visiting leisure craft will be confronted with the sight of several large pylons crossing the skyline as they enter the harbour and they will be visible from most of the pontoon berthing.’

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell last month reiterated his opposition to the pylons. He said: ‘I  have written to the company to seek another meeting and to confirm that I, and I believe the vast majority of the community, remain opposed to the current plan and that much is required by the company to resolve the issue.’

Approached by the Argyllshire Advertiser for comment, SSEN Transmission pointed out it had ‘engaged widely’ in the development process and claimed no formal objections were received from the local community or Argyll and Bute Council.

A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said: ‘We are committed to working closely with the local community, landowners and other stakeholders as part of the development of our landscape mitigation plan and as part of this will do all we can to try and minimise the visual impact in the Tarbert area.’

In their combined letter to Mr Wheelhouse, the community council, castle trust and harbour authority concluded: ‘While we appreciate the need for an upgrade of the power line, it must surely be possible to route this in a way which avoids the Tarbert skyline.

‘We welcome an early opportunity to discuss available options.’