Campaigners in 'plea for unity' over new pylons ahead of Dunbeath public meeting
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Caithness campaigners opposed to new high-voltage pylons are urging the community to "raise its voice" and "safeguard the land that defines us".
The call went out ahead of a public meeting being held next week by Dunbeath/Berriedale Community Say NO to Pylons, prompted by concerns over a 400kV line between Spittal in Caithness, Loch Buidhe in Sutherland and Beauly in Inverness-shire with substations at each location.
The event is a follow-up to an initial meeting in September and organisers are calling it "a plea for unity against the encroachment of multinational corporations that prioritise profit over preservation".
It will take place at Dunbeath village hall on Monday, January 29, starting at 7pm.
Unlike the first meeting, which attracted an audience of well over 100, Monday's event will include representatives of SSEN Transmission, the electricity company behind the project.
The new power line, with "super pylons" around 57 metres high, is seen as vital for transporting renewable energy generated in the Highlands to more populated areas of central Scotland and England. SSEN Transmission has said it is part of a UK-wide programme of works that are required to meet 2030 renewable targets, claiming it will support thousands of skilled jobs and deliver significant economic growth.
At the meeting in September, a speaker from Communities B4 Power Companies (CB4PC) warned that “nowhere in the Highlands will be safe from industrialisation" if the pylons are allowed to go ahead.
In a statement ahead of Monday's meeting, encouraging the public to attend and ask questions, Dunbeath/Berriedale Community Say NO to Pylons said: "We are demanding hard evidence that this project is necessary. We have figures to prove it is not."
It went on: "Overheard conversations hint at a willingness to extend the project one kilometre outside of the agreed perimeter, a decision made without community consultation. This raises questions about the legitimacy of the consultations held and the true extent of the project’s footprint.
"The community is grappling with the realisation that job figures presented by SSEN for the communities may be nothing more than fabricated promises, highlighting a disturbing lack of transparency. As the spectre of destruction looms large, residents are left questioning how much more they must endure at the hands of corporations seeking to exploit their land and heritage.
"Residents are coming together to safeguard their homes, businesses and land, realising that allowing such projects unchecked will set a precedent for further corporate incursions into their cherished landscapes.
"It is a call to action – a plea for unity against the encroachment of multinational corporations that prioritise profit over preservation for their shareholders. The time has come for our community to raise its voice, to demand evidence of need and transparency, and to safeguard the land that defines us.
"Let us not be passive recipients of decisions made in boardrooms far removed from the reality of our daily lives."
A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said: “Following the publication of our report on consultation in December, which set out the proposed 1km wide routes we are now taking forward, we are now progressing the development of overhead line route alignments within these proposed routes. This will include indicative steel tower locations, which will be on average 57m high.
“In the event that there is a requirement for these alignments to deviate outside the proposed 1km route for environmental, technical or stakeholder reasons, we will engage and where necessary consult with all affected parties as part of our ongoing engagement and consultation processes.
“We intend to present further refinement of these proposed routes in spring this year and will be inviting feedback to help inform the development of alignments ahead of further consultation planned for this summer.
“We look forward to continuing to engage constructively with all stakeholders, including next week’s public meeting in Dunbeath, to help inform the development of this critical national infrastructure that is required to help meet UK and Scottish government energy security and climate change targets and remain committed to minimise and mitigate environmental and community impact where possible.”