Scottish Conservative Candidate for Dumfriesshire, Oliver Mundell, has this week called on Dumfries and Galloway Council to support local residents over pylon concerns. Mr Mundell believes the Council can play a vital role in pushing for the full needs case for the SPEN Pylons project to be made public. Mr Mundell has also come out strongly against the proposal which he believes would permanently scar local communities and undermine future economic potential in the region.
The Conservative candidate for Dumfriesshire has been inundated with concerns from local residents about the current proposals since being selected. Having discussed the matter with local campaigners he believes that it is now imperative that as much information as possible is made available to interested parties to allow for transparent and rigorous examination to take place.
Many residents, community councils, campaign groups and environmental organisations have already given feedback to SPEN in the first consultation period, with over 1600 individual submissions made. Without exception, local residents and stakeholders have been appalled at the blight SPEN’s plan for overhead lines and huge sub-stations will cause to the region and its inhabitants.
This is the largest project in the region in the past 80 years and Mr Mundell argues that residents fully expect Dumfries and Galloway Council to step and act as their first line of defence. He therefore welcomes the decision by the Council to comment on the preferred corridor now, through the Planning Applications Committee, rather than wait until a later stage, when the route might well have been effectively fixed.
Commenting ahead of a key Council Meeting next week, Mr Mundell said:
“I hope Councillors will take this early opportunity to send a very clear signal to SPEN, Ofgem and both the UK and Scottish Governments that the project as currently proposed is totally unacceptable to Dumfries and Galloway.
“We all recognise some upgrade to the network is necessary, but not a scheme that will damage the environment and the thriving tourism sector of the economy in the region, which relies on the largely unspoilt countryside.
“It is likely that SPEN’s current proposal is grossly over-engineered after the removal of public subsidy for on shore wind farms. The Council should demand that SPEN and Ofgem reconsider this and the route, including re-examining without prejudgement sending much of the electricity under the sea and undergrounding some sections of what would then be a much smaller line. The higher expense in the short term would be relatively modest in the context of the time scale of the existence of the pylons, the overall economy of the region and the money the consumer is paying now in constraint payments. It should not be the reason for a shoddy project now that will affect us for generations.”
“As a first step, the Council should demand that the full Needs Case is put into the public domain as soon as possible, and that it should undergo rigorous and meaningful examination.”