An Angus public meeting descended into chaos after protestors challenged energy firm SSEN over plans for a line of so-called ‘super pylons’ running through the local countryside.
The electricity giant set up the Edzell Inglis Hall meeting to speak to locals about the upgrade of an existing overhead line in the area.
Contractors have created a compound in the Angus village for works on the 275kV line between Kintore and Kincardine.
Those have triggered some traffic issues in the area north of Edzell.
Residents hoped the public meeting would be a chance to iron out the problems.
But the hall was packed with opponents of the planned Kintore-Fiddes-Tealing 400kV overhead line which could bring a line of so-called ‘super pylons’ to Angus and the Mearns.
Consultation over that project was extended after claims of poor communication by SSEN.
Wednesday’s meeting was branded a “shambles”.
But some locals accused the pylon protestors of ambushing the information event.
Packed hall and no microphone
Kirriemuir Landward East Community Council chairman Ivan Laird said: “It was an absolute shambles.
“The hall was full, they had a screen on stage that was no size at all and no public address system.
“It developed into a free for all with people shouting over each other.
“Eventually I walked out.”
And Angus resident Jake Hensman added: “They completely failed to answer the question of why the need for the increased voltage, nor the re-routing of yet another super pylon corridor across the length of the Angus countryside, let alone the benefits, financial or otherwise, to the people of Angus and Aberdeen.
“The meeting itself was an insult to the people of Edzell.”
Standing room only
However one local said important questions around the ongoing project had been lost in the “rabble”.
“The purpose of the meeting was to explain what is going on at the moment, but it was hijacked by the campaigners,” they said.
“Leaflets saying ‘Stop the Pylons’ were being handed out at the door and the hall was packed, it was standing room only.
“The most vocal voices were the protestors.
“It means that those with legitimate questions about road closures and things like that didn’t have a chance to be heard.
“It was bedlam.”
They said: “I didn’t expect it to be about the super pylons and I didn’t expect it to be a rabble.”
SSEN pledge to work with community
A spokesperson from SSEN Transmission said: “Tuesday night’s meeting was an opportunity for the local community to discuss traffic management plans related to the ongoing upgrade of the existing overhead line between Kintore and Kincardine.
“We are sorry that the meeting ended up being dominated by discussions around the ongoing development of a new overhead line between Kintore, Fiddes and Tealing, despite our team making it clear from the outset the purpose of this meeting, which was also clearly advertised in advance.
“We would like to reassure the Edzell community and wider stakeholders that we, and our contractor, remain committed to work closely with them to minimise and mitigate any construction and traffic impacts related to the upgrade of the existing overhead line between Kintore and Kincardine.
“We will also continue to work with all stakeholders willing to engage in a constructive manner on the development of the new overhead line between Kintore, Fiddes and Tealing.”