Pylon plan: South Skye community wants face-to-face discussions with energy giants

Kylerhea, where the pylons are planned

Residents of a South Skye community are calling for face-to-face to discussions over proposals to install a new stretch of pylons near their homes.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is planning to replace the existing electricity power line that runs from Fort Augustus to Ardmore in the north of Skye.

However, residents in Kylerhea say that the section nearest their community is the only part of the project which deviates from the line already in place.

Due to coronavirus SSEN’s plans to hold public events in Skye were replaced by an online virtual consultation.

The Kylerhea community forum now wants more time to make clear their concerns.

Residents say that at a previous meeting in 2017 they had been told that the line would follow the existing cable route.

The scenic glen was a traditional drovers route

They now fear the current plans, nearer the township and through scenic Glen Arroch, would blight the countryside.

Forum secretary Sam Anstice Brown said: “We feel we are being brushed aside.

“There would be damage to the delicate wildlife ecosystem. Seeing the wildlife is one of the main reasons people come here.

“The residents of Kylerhea are very concerned indeed regarding the health implications of the pylons.

“As well as concerns regarding the safety of EMF fields near residential areas, we are all very concerned about our water supplies which come from natural springs.”

Mr Anstice Brown added: “We believe that SSEN have been able to put cables underground, or even under water, in sensitive areas.

“If this can be done, it should most certainly be done here too.

“We in Kylerhea feel largely ignored and our concerns not respected.

“Their reluctance to grant us face-to-face discussions, something which is becoming a very real prospect as Covid restrictions are being lifted, is evidence of that.”

The route of the new line

The current line was constructed in three distinct sections between 1956 and 1989 and is now reaching the end of its operational life.

SSEN say the planned replacement is essential to maintain security of supply to homes and businesses along its route, as well as to the Western Isles, which is supplied by two subsea cables from Ardmore point in Waternish.

SSEN said its virtual consultation has received over 4,500 visitors since its launch in early June.

56 people attended three interactive consultation events, asking direct questions of the project team.

In a statement SSEN added: “The project is still in the early stages of development.

“The consultation events presented a preferred 1km wide route corridor for the proposed replacement line and sought feedback on this to help inform a more detailed route and alignment study.

“The project team will be continue to engage with stakeholders throughout the environmental and engineering survey work over the coming months to ensure that an acceptable alignment and design solution is developed through this sensitive landscape and environment.

Remarking on the virtual consultations, project Manager Euan Smith said: “As we develop the Skye Reinforcement Project, we will consider views expressed by stakeholders, along with the technical, environmental and geographic constraints on the design and the safe operation of the line once it is constructed.

“We will be undertaking detailed environmental and engineering survey work over the coming months to develop an acceptable alignment and design solution through this sensitive landscape and environment.”