Angus communities are demanding a halt to plans for a line of ‘super pylons’ stretching across some of the north-east’s most scenic countryside.
They have joined a growing campaign against SSEN’s proposal for a 400kV overhead line of pylons stretching 70 miles from beyond Aberdeen to just north of Dundee.
But campaigners fear the impact of new towers more than 50 metres tall – higher than 10 double-decker buses stacked on top of each other.
SSEN say the Kintore to Tealing infrastructure is needed as part of a nationwide project to meet UK energy and net zero targets.
But opposition is mounting in Angus among residents who say the scheme is being “railroaded” through.
Critics have branded it an “environmental disaster on a catastrophic scale”.
Community opposition growing
Angus and Mearns community leaders met this week in Glen Lethnot to build a battle plan.
Inveresk community council chairman Gus Leighton says the feeling is SSEN are driving the project forward without proper consideration for local views.
“Generally, the need for suitable powerlines isn’t disputed if the UK electricity supply is to be carbon neutral by 2030,” he said.
“The way SSEN have gone about disseminating information and asking for comments was the main area of dissatisfaction.
“It was strongly felt that proper consultation had yet to take place.
“Inveresk CC invited SSEN and Balfour Beattie to our February meeting to explain their plans to upgrade the existing OHL from 275kV to 400kV since a project base was to be set up at Edzell.
“At no point did they even mention that there was also to be another 400kV OHL constructed.
“This came as a surprise to us just prior to the Brechin consultation event on May 9.
“But a proper consultation should be fair, honest and reliable, not something to tick a box.
“Overall, the feeling of the meeting was that SSEN were railroading the plan through and cost was their main driver.”
Facebook protest groups
They say markings are already being laid on rural roads to indicate where the power lines would cross.
And a couple who live in the childhood home of celebrated Mearns author Lewis Grassic Gibbon fear the plan will destroy the area’s tranquillity.
Bill and Dorothy Clark say the pylons and new Fiddes substation will “ruin” the writer’s famed Sunset Song countryside.
“There are groups of people all along the route of the proposed OHL who are up in arms,” added retired Squadron Leader Mr Leighton.
“SSEN should stop, rewind, publicise their plans and listen to those who are going to suffer the consequences of installing a high voltage line across a beautiful part of Scottish countryside, so far, without proper consultation or consideration.”
Another meeting to discuss the plan will take place at Farm to Table in Laurencekirk at 10:30am on Saturday May 27.
Why is the upgrade needed?
Existing pylons operate at 275kV.
SSEN say those are not able to be upgraded to operate at 400kV.
The size of the towers would not allow the conductors to achieve safe clearance distances and heights.
The OHL will carry power from onshore and large scale offshore renewable generation.
SSEN hopes to begin work on the four-year project in 2026.
Substation construction would take place in 2028/29.
What do SSEN say?
The power giant has set up a dedicated project website.
It sets out the proposals and provides a link for people to comment.
A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said: “The Kintore-Fiddes-Tealing 400kV project is part of a GB-wide programme of works that are required to meet UK and Scottish Government 2030 net zero and energy security targets.
“We are currently at the early stages of development and are seeking feedback on potential route options and substation location.
“Given the extent of interest in the project and in direct response to requests from the community, we have extended the consultation period by two weeks and would encourage anyone with an interest in the project to provide their feedback by Friday June 23.
“We would like to thank everyone who has shared their feedback so far, which will be carefully considered as we further refine our plans.”