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With just a handful of pylons left to construct in a new power line from Inveraray to Port Ann, work will shortly begin on the next phase, including the controversial Tarbert section.
Tarbert and Skipness Community Council has been pressing since 2019 for around half a dozen towers – up to 62 metres (203 feet) high – to be re-routed, fearing they will ruin the Tarbert skyline.
Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is currently upgrading the electricity transmission network to build a higher capacity 275 kV overhead line for 50 miles between Inveraray and Crossaig, on the Kilbrannan Sound.
The route ultimately submitted to Scottish Ministers for planning consent was amended in 2017 to take a dog-leg away from Tarbert golf course, moving it nearer the village. SSEN maintains it informed the community of the new route in advance – but local people claim the information available was inadequate.
Scottish Government consent was granted in July 2019.
While Tarbert and Skipness Community Council allege poor communication by SSEN and ‘seemingly deliberate delays in consultation’, it has been told there is no legal mechanism to compel the company to alter the route after consent.
The focus is now on getting the best form of mitigation to screen the pylons.
And the community council is hopes a scheme for offsetting the impact by making other improvements to Tarbert can be agreed with SSEN.
In a Facebook post, Tarbert and Skipness Community Council explained: ‘Whilst this is not a part of their brief, they did express a willingness to get involved, offered us the use of their landscape architect and asked for a brief proposal of what such a scheme might look like.’
Ideas suggested include enhanced local walks and cycle routes, electric car charging points, tree planting and flower displays.
The post continued: ‘SSEN has told us that it is considering our suggestions and hopes to reply soon.’
SSEN Transmission this week confirmed 101 pylons have been built and just 28 remain in the first phase. Work is scheduled to start on phase two – Port Ann to Crossaig – in May.
A company spokesperson continued: ‘In line with our planning consent conditions, we have developed a landscape and visual mitigation plan to help reduce the visual impact of the transmission line from key locations in Tarbert. This has been developed following feedback from Tarbert and Skipness Community Council, Forestry and Land Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council and land owners.
‘The plan consists of complementary tree and shrub planting, comprising a mix of natural species suited to the landscape and existing habitats in the area, designed to help reduce the visual impact of the transmission line.’
The landscape and visual mitigation plan was submitted to Argyll and Bute Council on January 13 and the SSEN spokesperson added: ‘We anticipate a response from Argyll and Bute Council in the coming weeks.’
An SSEN impression of how the proposed line of pylons, without mitigation, might look against the Tarbert skyline. no_a10TarbertPylonImage01