SSEN Transmission's Keith substation site move hailed as a "terrific victory for campaigners"
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Confirmation from SSEN Transmission that plans for a substation near Keith as part of a new power-line development have been revised have been welcomed after a campaign by locals and politicians.
SSEN Transmission has today published Reports on Consultations for the proposed new 400kV overhead line between Beauly, Blackhillock, New Deer and Peterhead, which includes four new substations along its route, and new HVDC Converter Stations at both Beauly and Peterhead.
The Reports on Consultations provides a summary of the extensive feedback received, how this has been considered and confirmation of which routes and proposed substation sites are now being taken forward to the next stage of development.
Following the first round of consultation on potential substation locations and second overhead line route consultation which collectively took place earlier this year, SSEN Transmission is taking forward several changes to its initial proposals.
At Blackhillock the proposed new substation site is moving from that consulted on earlier this year to the east of Keith, to one of the other shortlisted sites to the south-east of the existing Blackhillock substation, which now falls just over the local authority boundary in Aberdeenshire Council. This follows extensive local feedback and concerns around the impact of the initial site on Keith, including future development opportunities in the area which includes a potential new health centre.
Key sections of previously consulted on routes have been widened in places to reduce community impacts and present the opportunity to follow existing overhead electricity transmission infrastructure, where possible. This includes the proposed overhead line route as it passes the villages of Maud and Stuartfield.
All other route options and the proposed locations for Beauly, New Deer and Peterhead substations are being progressed in line with those options presented as ‘preferred’ when consulted on earlier this year.
In further recognition of community feedback, SSEN Transmission will seek to rationalise cumulative infrastructure impacts through the removal and undergrounding of existing transmission lines, where technically practical and appropriate, and subject to all necessary planning consents and landowner agreements.
Work to identify and assess potential sections of existing overhead line where their removal will reduce cumulative impacts is ongoing, with an update expected as part of the next round of public consultation on overhead line alignments and more detailed substation designs in early 2024.
Commenting on the publication of the Report on Consultation, Catherine Swan, senior development project manager, said: “We would once again like to thank all those stakeholders who took the time to constructively respond to our consultation, with this feedback instrumental in informing the changes to our proposals we are announcing today.
“The overhead line routes we are now taking forward to route alignment and our proposed substation locations seek to balance environmental and technical constraints alongside minimising community impacts.
“Following extensive, constructive engagement with the local community, we are pleased to confirm that we are moving the proposed new substation at Blackhillock near Keith, which will significantly reduce impacts on Keith and the wider community.
Moray MP Douglas Ross has hailed the substation revision as a “terrific victory” for local campaigners and said: “This change from SSEN Transmission is a terrific victory for local campaigners who made their significant concerns known to them as soon as this planned substation was announced.
“I was proud to stand alongside them in their fight.
"Having another substation to the east of Keith was wholly misguided and would have been wholly unsuitable.
“The fact that SSEN Transmission have now abandoned their plan entirely to site Blackhillock 2 in Moray is hugely welcome.
“It would have had a deeply damaging impact on the local landscape and potentially been harmful to future developments such as the plans for a long overdue new health centre in Keith.
“SSEN Transmission's changes are a great example of the positive outcomes that can be achieved when communities are properly engaged with and listened to.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said:“I am very pleased to hear that SSEN Transmission have made this change to their plans and are looking to locate the new substation well away from the town boundary and public amenities.”
“The people of Keith made a strong case against the original preferred site and I commend them for coming together as a community to take action.”
Keith and Cullen councillor Donald Gatt said: “This is a great announcement for the people of Keith and testament to their positive campaign in making their significant concerns known which SSEN have listened to.
"Hopefully the proposed original site can now be protected for a long overdue and needed new Health Centre for Keith”.
Fellow councillor Theresa Coull said: “It’s a relief to hear that SSEN Transmission has decided to change the location of the Blackhillock 2 substation project in Keith, and that it will be moved away from the town.
“This decision is a testament to the power of community engagement and the importance of listening to the concerns of our residents.
“I want to thank everyone involved in this process, from the community members who voiced their concerns to SSEN Transmission for their responsiveness and willingness to work collaboratively.”
The reports for the Beauly to Blackhillock to New Deer to Peterhead 400kV project are available to read in full and are available on the relevant dedicated project webpages, which can be accessed via these links -
All stakeholders who have subscribed to receive project updates will be invited to attend a webinar where the changes informed by the feedback will be discussed.