SSE’s Massive Aberdeenshire Pylon Project Wound Down

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Update on National Grid’s 2018 NOA Report and SSE’s development plans in Aberdeenshire

On 30 January 2018 National Grid (NG) published their latest NOA (Network Options Assessment) for 2017/2018. The NOA document presents the current options for developing the transmission network of overhead and submarine power lines required to satisfy the nation’s future electricity supply. NG conduct an annual economic review of all projects submitted by the transmission companies and recommend if they should proceed to development, be put on hold for future review, or should not proceed and work stopped (note: not necessarily cancelled).

In last year’s NOA SSE’s proposed new 400kV Beauly-Blackhillock-Kintore (BBK) overhead line, which CLAMPA and WAPA fought so hard to stop, was recommended by NG ‘not to proceed’ and SSE subsequently stopped all work on the project.

We can report that the 2018 NOA contains no reference to the BBK project. Those projects in North-East Scotland that have received NG’s blessing are two upgrades to the existing lines from Blackhillock to Alyth, near Perth, and the go-ahead for two high power submarine cables from Peterhead and Torness in Lothian to Teeside. The first two projects will require expansion of the Blackhillock substation, where work has already commenced, a new substation at Rothienorman, and an expansion of the Kintore substation. The expanded Blackhillock substation will facilitate import of power from the north of Scotland and the Beatrice windfarm in the Moray Firth which is scheduled to start transmission this summer. The new substation at Rothienorman will allow power transmission between the upgraded Blackhillock-Alyth line and Peterhead. The new focus appears to be transmission from the north of Scotland, where much new power generation is located, to the markets of the Central Belt and northern England by existing overhead lines and new submarine cables.

WAPA promoted these options and others to SSEN back in 2016 as better alternatives to building an entirely new pylon line through Aberdeenshire – seems that NG have agreed with us! However, NG’s new recommendations do not rule out SSE in future resurrecting their old project to move power from Beauly through West Aberdeenshire, so we must remain vigilant.

SSE/SSEN appear to have accepted NG’s latest recommendations and issued a news release.

In Feb 2018, WAPA Chair, John Wills, wrote to SSE:

Dear Mr Gardner

WAPA (West Aberdeenshire Pylon Action) reviewed with close interest National Grid’s latest NOA report, particularly with reference to SSEN’s development plans in our area of North-East Scotland. We were gratified to learn that your proposed Beauly-Blackhillock-Kintore (BBK) 400kV project, with its gigantic towers marching across our countryside, remains off the agenda and instead the focus appears to be the export of power generated in the north of Scotland to the markets of the Central Belt and North-East England via upgraded existing East Coast overhead lines to Perthshire, upgrading the existing lines between Kintore and Peterhead, to connect to the planned high-voltage HVDC submarine cable from Peterhead to Teeside. We were pleased that your press statement on 30 January stressed these outcomes. We think that this is very much the better environmental way to move power to where it is needed without despoiling our beautiful countryside, and WAPA has continuously stated as much during our campaign against the BBK line.
However, we acknowledge that the BBK project could be re-activated in the future if SSEN see such a need, as your statement after last year’s NOA emphasised, so WAPA will remain vigilant and will continue monitoring all the annual National Grid reports and future SSEN news briefings. 
WAPA has not gone away.
yours sincerely, for and on behalf of the core WAPA team

john wills

…. David Gardner of SSE replied on 14 Feb 2018:

From: “Gardner, David” <>

Subject: NOA Report

Date: 14 February 2018 at 11:54:23 GMT



Thanks for your email.

As previously promised, if there is a need to revisit the Beauly-Blackhillock-Kintore project in the future, we are committed to look again at the options and consult closely with the local community, including the representatives of WAPA. []

 We will make sure you are kept fully informed if there are any changes to our current position.

Best wishes


Post of March 2017:

SSE intended to build a  huge power line next to Bennachie. The new line would have been working by 2024. However in January 2017 SSE announced that the project would not go ahead for the time being.

Film showing the beautiful untouched area that SSE plc planned to vandalise (thanks to Graham at Aeroglen Ltd for his hard work, imagination and professionalism in putting this together to benefit all who care).

See slides from public meetings (reduced files sizes and quality): monymusk-5oct2016-meet

SSE closed their brief public consultation on 6 May 2016.

Corridor affected in 2016 here.