Powerlines – a friend and enemy to Scotland’s ancient woodland

We recently received a consultation document from Scottish Power Energy networks, in respect of an application to construct some 60 kms of new powerlines, above and below ground, in order to connect 7 wind farms and 3 new substations into the national grid.

The total loss of Scottish woodland from these plans is estimated at 1,093 ha.  Regrettably we shall not be making a submission to this consultation as none of this woodland is ancient in origin – which as the UK’s equivalent of the rainforest is a priority habitat for the Trust to protect and the focus of this team.

There is some good news however in this case. Unlike Scotland’s Beauly to Denny transmission line (currently awaiting a decision by the Scottish Government after a Public Inquiry), it looks like the applicants could have been paying attention to what we have been calling for over so many years!  It is pleasing to see that the proposed transmission lines have been routed to avoid what remnants of ancient woodland is in the locality, and these precious habitats will remain.

But in any event –  an area of woodland even bigger than the size of more than 100 football pitches will be lost to these plans.  See http://www.swsproject.com/ for further information.  Also this week Government has announced its vision for the electricity grid by 2020 – what will be the largest single expansion since the 1960s.   WoodWatchers should take note, because this makeover for the Grid may well prove fatal for some of the UK’s already vulnerable woodland areas.

About Ed Pomfret

Head of campaigns at the Woodland Trust. I run our campaigning work on issues such as climate change, aviation, planning reform and woods under threat.
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