Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Say NO to Pylons feedback Form

Here is a feedback form which can be used as an example of what you could put on your form. The more forms we have filled in, the better.

PYLONS in Nithsdale

SP Energy Networks  by e-mail dgsr@communityrelations.co.uk       14 Jul 2015

FEEDBACK FORM FOR Dumfries and Galloway Strategic Reinforcement Project.
The feedback form provided by SPEN contains inadequate space to complete answers.  I am therefore submitting this document which follows, as far as possible, the headings on the form.
Title: Mrs               First Name: XXXXXX                      Surname: XXXXXX
Are you responding on behalf of an organisation?  No, but I am a member of the Community Council and Chair of a local group which develops walks to show the history, diversity and beauty of our area.
Address:  XXXXXX Kirkton, Dumfries
Postcode:  DG1  
Telephone:  01387 710XXX
E-mail:  XXXXX@gmail.com               YES to receive updates.
Age Range:  51-65
Attended exhibition on 17th June in Locharbriggs

Q1.  General Comments on project.  How identified possible corridors and substation locations, how we decided on preferred options.
A1.  The manner in which this bombshell was delivered was totally insensitive.  We do not know how the decisions on the preferred route were reached.  Various members of the team at the exhibition were giving different answers to questions.
We accept the need for a new high voltage line, but do not accept that the route has to be within the parameters outlined by SPEN.

The route chosen has no doubt been chosen for a number of reasons, including:
Cost.  No facts were available about how costings were done.  The relative cost of alternative routes using overhead and underground cables was not laid out.  It would appear that the losses to house owners associated with depreciation of house values in a relatively poor area are not considered to be part of the equation.

Wild Life. Any pylon route crossing D&G from west to east is almost bound to cut across bird migration and local feeding-roosting routes. Kirkmahoe is no exception and though this parish might not quite have the same numbers as move up and down the Ken Valley or around the Glencaple area, or have Greenland White-fronted Geese (perceived to have a high conservation status), there important issues here in Kirkmahoe. Those that come to mind at once are:

1. Grey Herons. One of the largest heronries in Scotland is in the Kirkton area and birds fly from the heronry to the Nith every day from February to August as well as to wetlands in other directions. They often feed at night and could be prone to collision with cables. Currently about 34 pairs nest but there have been over 40 pairs.

2. Pink-footed Geese and Greylag Geese migrate up and down the Nith valley, at low and high altitude and there are some local movements to get to and from feeding areas. Sometimes they fly in fog or thick mist and could be prone to collisions.

3. Whooper Swans also migrate up and down the Nith valley, often at low level. Feeding flocks occur at Riggfoot, Netherholm and Kerricks (and move between these farms, and Caerlaverock etc). Some flocks that pass up the valley are too large to be local birds and are probably from Caerlaverock or elsewhere. Conservation status: The whooper swan is included in the Birds of Conservation Concern Amber List (medium conservation concern). It receives general protection in Great Britain under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and listed under Annex I of the EC Birds Directive. Listed as a Species of European Conservation Concern.

4. The Nith is a regular migration route for Eurasian Curlews, which have 'near threatened' status, heading north in spring, and sometimes travel at night.

5. Ducks and other wader species also head up the valley in small numbers.

6. The large area of river shingle to the north of Carnsalloch is important for breeding waders and specialist invertebrates. There are some patches of ancient woodland in Kirkmahoe.

Tourism.  Local communities in Dumfriesshire have put much effort into attracting tourists to southern Scotland.  The group which I chair, 'Discover Kirkmahoe', publishes walk leaflets to educate people about the history, natural history and environment of the parish and has been successful in encouraging people to walk more, enhancing wellbeing and interest in the area.  Enormous pylons, which will be visible from every part of the parish will ruin the beauty of this quiet area and certainly deter visitors, with the known detrimental effects to the economy of the area.

Q2.  D. Zone 3: Glenlee to Tongland.  Removal of 130km of existing overhead lines and towers.  Zones 3 & 5.
A2.  Removal of any overhead lines and towers is welcomed, but not if this just means their replacement elsewhere.  In Earshaig forest near Beattock, the 132 Kv line has been buried.  This should be the preferred option for replacing the overhead lines.  Undersea routes would cause least visible blight, but if this is really not possible because of geology, then given the amount of land with little habitation, if new routes are really required, these should be used, rather than using more densely populated areas.  If overhead lines must be used, for genuine reasons, not just because it is a cheaper option, then using existing corridors would cause the least disruption. 
Reasons put forward such as that the new routes are to protect wildlife are simply excuses.  There are dangers to wildlife in every route, and the welfare, needs and wishes of people must surely come first.

Q7.  F. Zone 5: Glenlee to Dumfries – preferred corridor.
A7.  No valid explanation has been put forward by SPEN as to why this is the ‘preferred corridor’.  It passes through the area of the Nith Valley that has large numbers of migratory and other birds, a large heron population, as previously outlined, and has had much local effort expended to improve tourist venues, walks, and to preserve this attractive area that has good views of the Cumbrian Hills.  Currently, it is without steel pylons.  All local distribution lines in this zone are on wooden poles which, whilst not attractive, do not dominate the southern skyline to Criffel in the same way as pylons would.

The corridor is very narrow in places, especially through Kirkmahoe, and when factors such as quarries, major gas pipelines and the River Nith are taken into consideration, no route which will not have a major detrimental impact on the area is apparently possible.
It is suspected that the decision has been taken simply on a cost basis.

The view from above Duncow to the Cumbrian mountains.  We do not want to lose this.

The view across the fields towards the North-west, taken from the Kirkmahoe War Memorial.  We do not want this ruined by monstrous pylons.

Q10.  I.  The substation siting areas.  4. Dumfries (preferred siting area D4)
A10.  Location D4 appears to be a sensible location, but its position suggests a southerly power line solution and NOT one through Zone 5.
Q11.  J.  About the project and consultation.  How did you find out?
A11.  By the 8 x A4 page folding leaflet received by post.
Q12.  How did you find the quantity and detail of information provided?
A12.  Very unsatisfactory because there was no justification or explanation for the preferred route proposed in Zone 5.
Q13.  Is there any way we could improve next time?
A13.  Yes, by giving more information at an earlier stage, encouraging local participation in the decision process and allowing a sensible time frame for responses.  Especially in the holiday season, many people will be unable to respond in a considered way. 

Q14.  K.  Any other comments.
A14.  As stated above, there is no clear justification for pursuing a route through Zone 5. Perhaps the originators failed to appreciate local community interest in their own environment, and hoped the solution would just be accepted.  The Scottish Government’s stated intention to give more choice and power to the people was overlooked.
The serious concerns expressed above, and undoubtedly also raised by many others in Dumfries and Galloway, must be taken into account before this project is taken forward.  A firm basis for preferred routes and sub-station locations must be established, with community agreement, before moving forward to more detail in subsequent phases.

We are looking for volunteers to distribute leaflets etc so if you are interested in helping stop this horror being imposed upon us please email kirkmahoe@gmail.com leaving your details

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