Pages

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.

***

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…”

***

 

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.

44 comments:

  1. It's industrialisation of the Highlands, all those wonderful wild places will just vanish forever - they ARE vanishing.
    Unbelievably barmy - and quite sickening.
    JJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, JJ.
      According to SSEPD's programme they'll start building this in 2015 and will complete it in 2017.
      I'll never be going there again.

      Delete
  2. Perhaps they should build the grid connection station next door to a certain outdoors journalist and SNP member who lives in Newtonmore ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, almost next door to Cameron McNeish's house is a wonderfully elevated flat moorland that would be just the job. It's not wild land as it's next to Newtonmore, the A9, the railway. Perfect for the job. A simple spur to the transmission lines the other side of the Spey valley - Job Done.
      And of course, according the McNeish's beloved SNP it would not detract from the value of his house either.

      Delete
  3. Unbelievable! I like Robins idea as an alternative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, Paul.
      I think McNeish should volunteer to have it there rather than spoil the beautiful upper Spey.

      Delete
  4. Agree with JJ. It´s unbelievably barmy and sickening.

    The wind power industry is not an environmentally friendly business. It´s just big business.

    The SNP doesn´t care a hoot for Scotland´s grandiose nature. It´s just another neo-liberal party which cares for the needs of landowners and Armani entrepreneurs.

    Markus

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spot on, Markus.
      (I love your expression "Armani entrepreneurs")

      Delete
  5. Thanks for your excellent explanation of what the scamsters are planning - a real eye opener. No doubt the landscape will be further desecrated by pylons from Stronelairg to Melgarve (why are pylons never considered in planning applications for turbines?). This SSE plan is quite cynical and disgusting - they obviously believe that they have a licence from the government to continue to rape our landscapes - utterly shameful and disgusting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The map for the proposed pylon routes linking Stronelairg to the grid connection at Melgarve is shown above, George. You can click on it to make it awfully huge.
      :-(

      Delete
    2. That is because they DO have just such a licence. Only in Scotland ...

      Delete
    3. Indeed, Jane.

      I also find it bizarre that the Distribution Network Operator (The business that makes the connection) is Scottish & Southern Energy Power Distribution and they are installing a connection for Scottish and Southern Energy. I wonder what the billing arrangements are between these two parts of the same business? You can almost guarantee that the bill will be huge, but it's us that are paying for it.

      Delete
    4. Frankly, I don't care about the money. Seriously. I only care that these horrendous acts of destruction are halted. That's worth more to me than any discount on an energy bill. I can't buy peace of mind. I used to get that from being in the hills, but now I'm a state of perpetual anxiety. Like knowing the person you love most is dying of an incurable disease and it's only a matter of time. you want to spend every available second with them, but the devastation gradually becomes too much to bear.

      Delete
    5. I totally understand that and agree that it's madness to destroy the one place that can 'fix souls.'
      But at the same time they're doing this people are afraid to cook hot food because they can no longer afford the electricity.
      :-(
      How can it have possibly come to this?

      Delete
  6. This is something we seem to have missed in our objections. The scale of infrastructure installation and damage to the glens as well as the summits.

    Wild camps at Gava Bridge will be not the same. But also the concrete, roads and work to make this are a mockery of the green argument, the whole thing is anti-green, against wild land and opposed preserving the highlands. Keep at it Alan and highlighting the issues to inform opposition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, Martin. Ii certainly hadn't noticed the omission of the grid connection.
      I had assumed that it would be done at the same location as the Glen Doe Hydro near Ft Augustus.
      They are sneaky, devious bastards.

      Delete
    2. I hadn't either but I have said many times that once the Beauly - Denny line was approved then all was lost. I'm not sure some people really understood the significance of the BD approval. I do like the proposal to locate the grid connection next to Mr McNeish's abode. A petition perhaps?

      Delete
    3. The irony of that though is that we would probably all protest (albeit through gritted teeth!) and he would probably find a way to avoid giving a straight answer.

      Delete
    4. Hi Gibson & Hi Dave.
      I'm currently drafting a blogpost that asks Cameron McNeish and all those who say "they approve of wind farms that are sited in the right places" (and I'll name names - I have a long list of them) to suggest on my blog where they think these suitable places are.
      I shall then write to the local communities to see what they think about the proposals. I'll invite each and every person I'm naming to contribute to the blog in the comment section - I'll be giving them total editorial control of their comments. Expect it in a fortnight or so.
      Let's see if they actually reply. if they don't they will be named and shamed.

      Delete
    5. Hello Alan.

      An excellent idea. It will be interesting to see who replies and perhaps even more interesting to note those who don't.

      Delete
    6. I'm expecting a lot of pregnant silences, Gibson.
      And as you say, that will speak volumes.
      :-)

      Delete
  7. Alan, thank you very much for the effort you continue to put into publicising exactly what this "green" energy is doing to the wild areas. Reading your blog makes me very sad - but it also spurs me into doing something, whether it's writing an email against a wind farm planning application or donating a few pounds to the John Muir Trust. If anyone is reading this and thinking "Oh, it would be a real shame to lose all the wild land", please, please take action. Whatever you can do to stop this destruction must be worth it. It would be a shame to regret not doing anything afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Judith.
      I would like to shout that from the treetops!

      "If anyone is reading this and thinking "Oh, it would be a real shame to lose all the wild land", please, please take action. Whatever you can do to stop this destruction must be worth it. It would be a shame to regret not doing anything afterwards."

      Delete
  8. Sorry, Alan, but embedding a clickable link is beyond my range. A certain former BBC "flagship" presenter and past president of the RSPB (sighs inwardly) is fond of using any available soapbox, but rarely available for debate...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/9319093/Hay-Festival-2012-Wind-farms-are-necessary-says-Springwatchs-Kate-Humble.html

    And you probably already know about this, but some others may not...

    http://www.thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/booker-bbc.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for those, Dave.
      Yes I remember both - the Telegraph piece has two mad women - Humble and Gray. Gray was famous for Just copying and pasting every green NGO's press release (she didn't last long.)

      As for Kate Humble... I'm sure she may have been a fine telly presenter.
      :-)

      Delete
    2. I've long admired Booker's work (since buying "Scared to Death" by Booker & North back in 2008). I especially like the scrupulously noted sources to support each point that he advances. This means that his work is invariably panned by the green lobby, but rarely refuted. Quite delicious ;-)

      Delete
    3. He was a lone voice railing against wind turbines in the media for years.
      No one listened when he said it would screw our economy and that electricity bills would rise.
      The majority of politicians still aren't listening. The green groups have their fingers rammed in their ears, chanting "Green is Good."

      Delete
    4. Was going to make a wee joke there but my sense of humour failed me. Travelling up and down the ghastly M74 corridor to visit a sick (sic) relative has hammered home, yet again, just how appalling Scotland's future is in the hands of people who have not stopped pontificating long enough to consider all the arguments on the table."Rhubarb",, I think, is what they are chanting.

      Delete
    5. It gives a whole new meaning to

      "You're welcome to Scotland!"

      Delete
  9. Most years I drive the M74 four times (twice in each direction) and I'm usually struck by two things:

    1). How quickly the numbers of turbines have proliferated; we knew it was coming but there's certainly been no dragging of feet.

    2). What a large proportion of them seem to be not turning at all, which invariably causes me to think "useless, as well as ugly"

    Four observations a year is hardly a scientific study, but it's all I have to go on. Others will be travelling that road much more frequently and may have seen things differently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to adore the trip up the M74 - at the top there was a huge sense of emptiness ~ an airy space that stretched for mile and miles. It cried out "Walk me!"
      These days I prefer to ravel on the Sleeper so i pass by the horrific mess at night when I'm asleep.
      As an advert for Scotland it is absolutely appalling.
      Desperately sad, Dave (and Jane)

      Delete
    2. Climbed the Aonachs from Glen Etive on Sunday, a gorgeous day. On the summit plateau there was a huge sense of emptiness - but still there was that wind farm to the north to taint the pleasure ... I gazed in awe at the rolling hills to the south-east, south and west and wondered how long their magnificence would last. At times like these I wonder if we'd have a case at the European Court of Human Rights. I don't think I'm the only person who finds that the remainder of their life has been soured by this madness. Apparently it doesn't do these days to have a soul.

      Delete
    3. I'm walking the Levishie Forest in May, Jane - a final Goodbye to an old friend, the Balmacaan. It will soon be covered in wind turbines. And now they are going to destroy the Eskdale Triangle as well. I walked that back in '98. I've still wonderful memories of that day.

      Delete
    4. I will make a note of that one. Will have to give up work to find time to visit these places before they disappear.. Re-read earlier post and wondered at my ability to fly from Glen Etive to the Aonachs. Must have been a distressed error. Glen NEVIS - as you were to polite to point out - was looking rather fine in a poignant kind of way.

      Delete
    5. :-)
      Both Glens Etive and Nevis are utterly beautiful, Jane.
      :-)

      Delete
  10. alan i,m seriously thinking of never going to scotland again and all because of those bloody wind turbines. so in future i think i,ll stick to wales .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chris
      There are still loads of places where there aren't any wind turbines, but the hilltracks are snaking their way into all sorts of nooks and crannies in Scotland these days - used by lazy fat sods with two much money an no chin who want to go and kill birds.
      :-(

      Delete
    2. Have you seen McNeish's latest blog in Walkhighlands? Complaining about the loss of wild lands. Yegods, how dare he put himself forward as a champion of the Scottish countryside. I couldn't find a way to post a comment, otherwise I would have soberly chided him for his chameleon tactics. Pretty shoddy.

      Delete
    3. I've read now, thanks Jane; as I was reading I realised I have now added shouting at the laptop to my litany of eccentricities (I've already been shouting at the TV and radio for a good many years).

      The inconsistency and lack of self awareness beggars belief.

      Delete
    4. Sorry for the delays at the end - been away for a couple of days to see Mr Walker as a Panto Dame and to have lunch with my friend, Darren and cold only manage to post your comments on the phone - replying to them on the phone is painfully slow.

      I share both your pain.If it didn't make me boil I would be falling over laughing.

      Delete
    5. So glad to learn that others share my habit of shouting at the laptop, and perhaps also yelling to the heavens while driving. Reading Nan Shepherd's poetry collection "In the Cairngorms" and weeping.

      Delete
    6. I now have a very wobbly key on the laptop which is now loose and keeps falling off as I was hammering the thing so hard in trying to comment elsewhere...
      :-(
      Stay with Nan Shepherd -she writes beautifully.

      Delete

Hi.
Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!