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 – 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 – 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 – 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.
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 – 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 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…”
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.