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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Stronelairg Grid Connection to be sited at Melgarve

This is an unexpected post about Stronelairg wind farm. It’s a post to show why it so important to back the John Muir Trust in its legal fight with the Scottish Government over Stronelairg. Please, read on.

The John Muir Trust sent out an email today asking everyone to comment on Scottish & Southern Energy Power Distribution’s – SSEPD – proposal for a giant grid connection for the Stronelairg wind farm right next to Melgarve Bothy on the Corrieyairack Pass. How a wind farm is allowed planning permission without stating how it going to be connected to the National Grid is quite frankly, baffling. But anyway…

Let me jog your memory and show you where this is going to be, with a map:

STRONELAIRG GRID CONNECTION LOCATION MAP

STRONELAIRG GRID CONNECTION LOCATION MAP – CLICK TO ENLARGE

The purple line from the top left to the bottom right of the map is the new Beauly-Denny transmission line. SSEPD had highlighted Foyers, Ft Augustus and Melgarve as possible locations for connecting Stronelairg to the grid, but they ruled out Foyers as being too far from Stronelairg and because there are  “No opportunities to extend substation site due to physical constraints.”

Remember that phrase for a while will you? It’s going to be important later. Thank you.

Fort Augustus was ruled out because it was also too far away from Stronelairg, the existing substation being at capacity and “significant technical and environmental challenges with grid connection route… and proximity to settlement.”

That left Melgarve, which as Goldilocks said – “It was not too far and not too small. In fact it was just right.” So, SSEPD have plumped for two possible sites at Melgarve.

Let’s now have a look at a map of Melgarve – the new Shangri-la for SSEPD:

MELGARVE / STRONELAIRG GRID CONNECTION

MELGARVE / STRONELAIRG GRID CONNECTION – CLICK TO ENLARGE

SSEPD have identified two possible locations here

  • One immediately adjacent to Melgarve Bothy – Location A on the map.
  • One  next to Garva Bridge, a couple of miles down the Spey, Location B on the map.

Blow up the above map to a larger size; it will open in a new window for you. Just take a look at how they are cramming this grid connection in. It’s just to the north of the SNH Wild Land Area and just to the west of the Cairngorm National Park.

If you recall Wild Land Areas mean sod-all to the Scottish Government as they simply removed Stronelairg from the Wild Map so it could be built. And this grid connection is a good mile north of this wild land area. So, that’s not going to stop this grid connection.

Well then. What route will the 132kVA pylon run take from Stronelairg to Melgarve: Here are the options:

STRONELAIRG WIND FARM PYLON ROUTES

STRONELAIRG WIND FARM PYLON ROUTES – CLICK TO ENLARGE

You’ll see that SSEPD are very helpful here; they virtually rule out three of the routes with the pink areas, which are “Localised areas of steep topography,” ie “Bloody hard to build a pylon route here, Boys!” So that effectively rules out possible Location A, then. So it looks like they’ll choose either a variant of Route 1 or Route 3&3A, both leading to Location B, near Garva Bridge.

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So, what does a grid connection look like? You would be forgiven if you thought it was just a simple connection between the 132kVA pylon run from the wind farm intersecting with the massive Beauly -Denny pylon run. I’m afraid not, Dear Heart!

It will actually look like this:

STRONELAIRG WIND FARM GRID CONNECTION AT MELGARVE

STRONELAIRG WIND FARM GRID CONNECTION AT MELGARVE – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Pretty big, hey? Wont that look great? But of course, it is going to be far worse than that. You will of course have remembered those magic words “No opportunities to extend substation site due to physical constraints” that you noted earlier.

Let’s now look at what’s coming after Stronelairg and why this phrase is important. Let’s look at the map of approved and in-planning wind farms for the area:

Highland Council Windfarm Map June 2014

HIGHLAND COUNCIL WIND FARM MAP – CLICK TO ENLARGE

You’ll certainly need to click on this map to read it; it opens up larger in a new window.

You’ll see that the Dell and Culachy wind farms are also likely – okay, pretty definitely – going to connect to the Beauly-Denny power line as well, for exactly the same reasons Goldilocks chose Melgarve in the first place. Culachy and Dell combined are roughly the same size as Stronelairg. However, each will need its own grid connection, so the eventual size of these grid connections is going to be two to three times the size of that shown in the illustration of the grid connection above. (You’ll note that the road turn-outs are already drawn in for the next grid connection, in the illustration of the grid connector.)

This means there will be a MASSIVE set of industrial grid connections running alongside the Wade Road through the Corrieyairack Pass. They are likely to be getting on for half a mile long by 250m deep.

That is a brutal industrial scar on the Upper Spey – one of the finest, most picturesque glens in Scotland.

The Scottish Government: “You can trust us…”

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You can find out what the JMT think about this by clicking HERE and you can find the source information for this blog post by clicking HERE and downloading the pdf on the right hand side of the page. You can also download the pdf which you can print out, and then fill in with your thoughts and send it to SSEPD.

Thank you.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

JMT setback on Stronelairg court case

I wrote a few days ago about the John Muir Trust’s appeal to raise funds to take the Scottish Government to court over its decision to approve Stronelairg wind farm without a public inquiry. 

Disappointing news came in yesterday. A judge has refused the JMT a Protective Expenses Order. A PEO procedure exists to make it possible for anyone to take a case to the courts to protect the environment in the public interest; and to be able to do so without the risk of prohibitive legal costs from the other parties.

This could be a body-blow for the JMT – opening up the risk to vast sums of expenses should it lose the case in court. The JMT is now considering its position, but now, more than ever, needs our financial support. We should not let the Scottish Government’s illegal destruction of wild land continue.

Please click on the link below to make a donation – whatever you can afford; Everything helps..

www.jmt.org/stronelairg.asp

Or, you can call 0131 554 0114, where the JMT will be pleased to help you.

 

The two articles speak for themselves. The first is from the JMT, the second from Herald Scotland.

JMT on news of set back 31st Oct 2014

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Stronelairg Set Back, 1st Nov 2014

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A post about the UK’s electrical supply

Before we start, let me apologize for the weird formatting of this post, but embedding the House of Lords video has been a nightmare and has screwed up paragraphs, video placement and line-breaks.

*sigh* Onwards!

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These two videos are enlightening

The first video is blunt and to the point. Professor Dieter Helm’s appearance before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on Tuesday was pretty special. From his opening remarks he lays it on the line with the committee, saying that it’s an amazing state of affairs that Britain is even discussing the possibility of power cuts, and that we are failing on each issue of security, price and decarbonisation.

It is deeply disturbing that as one of the top industrialised countries in the world we find ourselves in this appalling state of affairs. Professor Helm’s evidence to the committee starts at 11:39am, so slide the button along to that time.

 

 
The second video is an interview on Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics show this past weekend. His guest, Elizabeth Truss, was appointed Secretary of State of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on 15th July of this year. It is, frankly, quite terrifying that she has absolutely no grasp whatsoever on what the UK has signed up to – a legally binding agreement to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% of our 1990 levels by 2050, and the massive associated ramifications. Andrew Neil, quite properly, shows no mercy. 

It is scary to think that people like Elizabeth Truss have our collective future in their hands. It is even scarier to consider that a Prime Minister would want them in his cabinet.
Just to cheer you up, I’ll let you on your way with a cutting from today’s Press & Journal; More raptor deaths are caused by wind farms than from by shooting industry. Click on it to enlarge it slightly.
Press & Journal Raptor DeathsThe wind energy industry: Don’t ya just love it?

TGO Challenge 2015: Cheese & Wine Party

2014 CHEESE & WINE PARTY

2014’s CHEESE & WINE PARTY – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Sipping fine wines, scoffing tasty cheeses over 2,000 feet up in the freezing cold, in the middle of sod-all, with like minded souls in the finest hill country in Great Britain? Has this piqued your interest at all?

Lord Elpus and I have been hosting Cheese & Wine parties on the TGO Challenge for quite a few years. Each year we issued the invite on the TGO Message Board and if Challengers felt it was close to their proposed route they could pop along and join in. It was the luck of the draw if the party was to be on their route.

But in more recent years we have been publishing the party’s date and location a little earlier, so that Challengers could actually plan their routes to take in the parties. This still did not please some folk, as they had already planned their routes in advance of even hearing if they had a place on the Challenge!

So, with this in mind, this year Lord Elpus has issued 2015’s party invitation on the day all application forms were due in at Challenge Control. He posted the following message and invitation on the Challenge Message Board:

 

With all the entries safely gathered in, and the nights drawing in, Challengers old and new are thinking of the brighter days of May, and routes that they may wander across Scotland ... but, even as the Landranger maps are spread out they hesitate.
Why? Because they do not yet know where and when the social highlight of the Challenge will take place.
Hesitate no more. The invitations are printed, and here is yours, ready to prop on your mantelpiece.

Cheese and Wine Invite 2015

CHEESE & WINE INVITATION 2015 [COURTESY PHIL LAMBERT] CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

It will be interesting to see who accepts our invitation this year. ALL Challengers are welcome. Here are some pictures of past parties so you can see what to expect.

2010 CHEESE & WINE PARTY

2010 CHEESE & WINE PARTY – CLICK TO ENLARGE

2010: Held at the headwaters of the Waters of Eunich. We started at a tropical 2 deg C and then it rained and dropped below freezing with light snow flurries. You have to be hard to be a Cheese & Wine participant. The weather might not have been brilliant, but the C&Wers were wonderful. There was almost a couple of drownings.

2011 CHEESE & WINE PARTY

2012 CHEESE & WINE PARTY – CLICK TO ENLARGE

The 2012 C&W party was held between Loch Treig and Loch Ossian. We were blessed this year by Val & Dave Machin ferrying in balloons and wonderful party food and wines! The weather was bright, sunny and freezing cold. The company was wonderful.

2013 CHEESE & WINE PARTY

2013 CHEESE & WINE PARTY – CLICK TO ENLARGE

The 2013 C&W party was held at the very top of Glen Tromie. Again the weather was kind but again, it was bloody freezing! I wasn’t feeling too good (I had a kidney transplant a few weeks later) and baled out early. Again, Val and Dave magically produced wonderful party food & wines before walking off back homeward in the gloaming; They got home in the small hours.

2014 CHEESE & WINE PARTY

2014 CHEESE & WINE PARTY – CLICK TO ENLARGE

The 2014 C&W party was held near the Chalybeate Spring in the midst of the proposed turbines for the massive Stronelairg wind farm in the Monadh Liath. We had a fantastic turn-out – fourteen or fifteen Challengers. Again, the weather was wonderful – sunny and warm (ish) to start with, turning to a wonderful moonlit night.

During the night someone built a henge close by…

PHIL'S HENGE