Consider potential requirements for critical grid infrastructure investment to ensure resilience and support the transition to Net Zero

Response to Q4: What criteria should we use to decide where the next new National Parks in Scotland should be? Consider potential requirements for critical Transmission infrastructure investment in future National Park locations to ensure resilience and support the transition to Net Zero.

Why the contribution is important

We support the commitment outlined within the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government which confirms an intention to create another National Park in Scotland and we welcome the opportunity to contribute to this early-stage consultation as the requirements for potential locations are considered. The north of Scotland is expected to play an outsized role in the transition to Net Zero, contributing up to 10% of the UK’s Net Zero by 2050 target (despite only representing 2% of the UK’s population). As the owner of the Transmission Network in the north of Scotland, delivering critical grid infrastructure that improves resilience in the rural communities we serve and connecting the renewable energy needed to support Scotland’s transition to Net Zero emissions, we request that consideration is also given to planned future transmission infrastructure upgrade requirements to ensure that any potential corridors/areas of transmission network development will be accommodated within any designation or policies around future National Park development. At present we work closely with both National Park Authorities, and other statutory consultees to ensure that we minimise any environmental impact that our developments have within National Park boundaries as far as practicable, seeking agreement from key parties on acceptable routing and micro siting, and employing mitigation measures where possible as we deliver our nationally important grid investments. As a regulated business with regulatory license requirements, we must also deliver these critical reinforcements in the most efficient and economic way possible for GB bill payers. The location of a new National Park for Scotland should follow the same balanced approach in its development policies to enable Scotland’s natural assets and critical economic infrastructure investment to cohabit successfully so that legally binding decarbonisation targets are not put at risk. We look forward to further engagement in the consultation process as plans for a new National Park progress and would welcome the opportunity to discuss our response and future investment plans in more detail. About SSEN Transmission: SSEN Transmission, operating under licence held by Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, owns, operates and develops the high voltage electricity transmission system in the north of Scotland and remote islands. We are delivering a network for net zero, connecting the renewable energy needed, and delivering greater electrification required in society to support UK and Scottish emissions reduction targets. As a regulated business, delivering critical national infrastructure, our developments and business strategy follow a stakeholder-led approach to deliver jobs and economic benefits, support greater grid resilience, create community wealth and improve the biodiversity our natural spaces through our sector leading Biodiversity Net Gain Strategy.

by SSENTransmission on June 01, 2022 at 03:05PM

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Comments

  • Posted by camusfearna June 04, 2022 at 10:35

    These are very helpful comments and I agree that 'The location of a new National Park for Scotland should follow the same balanced approach in its development policies to enable Scotland’s natural assets and critical economic infrastructure investment to cohabit successfully so that legally binding decarbonisation targets are not put at risk.' This is similar to the critical issue of not siting a new national park such that important existing onshore renewables would need to be removed (to comply with Scottish Planning Policy) and under-construction and approved onshore renewables not taken forward, thus impacting Scotland's renewables aspirations as part of its statutory climate change targets.
  • Posted by scottishwildlandgroup June 04, 2022 at 14:36

    The over-riding reason for the creation of a national park is the protection of the natural landscape. All other factors are secondary. Large scale man-made infrastructure does not have to be in national parks.
  • Posted by geoffreykolbe June 05, 2022 at 17:28

    To me, a National Park should have an identifiable countryside in which visitors and locals can relax and enjoy themselves. The OP and camusfearna seem to think that a National Park should be covering in wind farms and pylons to ensure the lights stay on in the urban sprawls. I don't think that is what the Scottish National Parks Act (2000) had in mind and I do not think that is what visitor want to see. There are plenty of other areas in Scotland where onshore wind farms could be located - but of course they are a long way from England and the transmission grid to get the power South.
  • Posted by croftercowrie June 05, 2022 at 18:01

    Perhaps SSENTransmission should consider under grounding more cable. Ultimately, though, for Scotland to truly benefit from the generation of renewable energy, the national grid north of the border needs to be nationalised... . Incidentally, if rural communities benefit financially from renewable energy generated in their area, I don't have a problem with wind turbines -- I'd rather see them than more camper vans and second/holiday houses.
  • Posted by ganp1 June 05, 2022 at 20:07

    The Highlands of Scotland are being over developed for wind farms which are having negative impacts of the lives of residents and are unattractive to visitors. The environmental damage caused by wind farms far outweighs any pretensions of being a green alternative. The amount of public money paid to companies when turbines are turned off is a scandal especially in these times when companies are being allowed to extort money from customers. Locate wind farms where the energy is needed not in rural areas. Glen Affric is an area increasingly being dominated by wind farms and residents ought to be given the opportunity to exert control on this.
  • Posted by AndrewPym June 05, 2022 at 21:53

    National Parks should be forward looking so that they can address the very real challenges that face us all. They should not only address nature and landscape but they should fulfil the further aim of sustainable development to underpin the social and economic foundations of everyone who lives and works in the area. The rapid move towards net zero poses great challenges and new solutions will be required to maintain energy supplies without carbon. The Government will need to review its policies so that National Parks can play their part. The key in National Parks is to bring all the issues and opportunities together and identify the solutions which respect and enhance all elements of the environment whilst they sustain and improve day-to-day living for people. This can include elements of wind and other energy schemes, but taking proper account of the heritage, landscape, businesses and people. This should include new proposals and all applications to renew or extend existing ones. Galloway is such an example, as it hosts a significant number of wind farms; 90 years ago the River Dee was developed significantly for hydro schemes but they have become totally accepted as part of the landscape. Wind turbines raise different challenges but the demand for increasing amounts of electricity makes their presence in National Parks worth considering.
  • Posted by camusfearna June 05, 2022 at 23:14

    To correct a comment by geoffreykolbe, I do not think that a National Park should be 'covered in wind farms and pylons to ensure the lights stay on in the urban sprawls'. Quite the contrary, I support Scottish Planning Policy which prohibits windfarms in national parks (and also in National Scenic Areas). The point which some of those campaigning for national park designation in areas where there are already windfarms (or they are under construction or have been approved) are not addressing is that under Scottish Planning Policy a national park is incompatible with the presence of windfarms and thus areas with windfarms should not be designated a national park. Unless, of course, those campaigners wish Scottish Ministers to change Scottish Planning Policy and allow windfarms in national parks. But nobody is suggesting that that would be sensible and it would risk windfarms being proposed in the two existing national parks!. Equally, it does not seem reasonable to anticipate that Ministers would seek to remove windfarms and de-approve approved windfarms in an area they wish to designate as a national park - which would entail substantial multi-million £ compensation and require the government to identify alternative, compensatory, windfarms; at a time when Scotland is not meeting its statutory climate change targets and is committed to increasing onshore (as well as offshore) renewables. In other comments, a sensible proposed criteria is to consider national parks only in National Scenic Areas, to maintain consistency with Scottish Planning Policy and to not undermine Scotland's hopes of achieving its statutory climate change targets.
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