SCOTLAND is being subjected to a massive infrastructural project linking ever-growing offshore and onshore windfarm developments from the Western Isles, Shetland, the North Sea and multiple sites in onshore upland areas, through various sub-sea and overland links, with those overland routed through otherwise unspoiled scenic landscapes, thus to feed the needs of England and elsewhere.

In effect Scotland is being turned into a dispersed multi-GW wind power station and its associated substations, switchgear and storage, with the default onshore transmission being by 60m-high pylons. It is notable that from offshore transmission is by 525kV HVDC cabling, in fact the Japanese company Sumitomo Electric has broken ground on a £350 million facility at the Port of Nigg for manufacturing the necessary cables.

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The links can be lengthy, for example the offshore section of the planned 2GW Shetland 2 link is 250 km and subsea links are planned from Peterhead to Drax and South Humberside. Where offshore links come onshore, the plan seems to be to build massive stations for DC-AC inversion and transformation to 400kV AC transmission by 60m pylons, which then march hundreds of miles to the market.

Beauly is at the centre of this scheme, with a 400kV line running north to the tip of Caithness, and another running east along the coast of the Moray Firth to Peterhead, and another running south from Peterhead through Aberdeenshire and Angus, all with accompanying vast transformer stations. None of this would be allowed, say, down Loch Lomond side, or through Holyrood Park, and interestingly the plans are to bury the onshore section of the Western Isles Link, 80km from Dundonnell to a mainland HVDC Converter Station at Beauly, presumably because SSEN have anticipated that they would not get away with 60m pylons on this route. Why then must the substantial population north of Beauly – and in a corridor running from there to Peterhead, and south to Dundee and beyond – tolerate pylons and their transformers, switchgear, and associated buzz and crackle, permanently destroying their landscape? The answer is, of course, that it is cheaper than burying the cable, thus enhancing shareholders dividends, and SSEN think they can get away with it.

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It still wouldn’t be acceptable, but there would at least be an argument for it if the state-run energy company announced by Nicola Sturgeon in 2017 was now in place. All of this renewable energy, well in excess of Scotland’s needs, could then be sold to benefit Scotland’s exchequer, and Scotland’s consumers might get a preferential rate. But no, all of this energy is exported for the enrichment of those furth of Scotland. We need to hold our hands up to SSEN and associated private utilities and say NO! Not acceptable! Redraw your plans to bury all infrastructure. Otherwise a wee public revolt is called for, with a bit of associated civil disobedience where appropriate.

Ken Gow

THERE were good articles Kenny MacAskill and the other by George Kerevan on Monday this week.

Kenny’s article said that since Scotland’s oil and renewable resources were discovered the the story, with a few honourable exceptions, has been the same. That is, Scotland gets the ugly infrastructure, and the grass-cutting jobs at the base of the wind turbines, while international businesses get the profits and London gets the tax money. Our rural landscape is littered with giant windmills, electricity pylons, pump storage schemes and oil rigs, while thousands of Scots live in fuel poverty. The paradox of poverty among plenty.

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George Kerevan in his article said that Sir Keir Starmer’s big idea is to set up another national oil company like the one Margaret Thatcher sold to her big-business allies in 1988 in order to put the money toward balancing that year’s budget, as was her child-like view of economic management. Labour’s proposed new company will buy into future developments in Scottish oil fields to give the London exchequer a continuous share in their future profits.

This is an admirable idea. Norway has played that game to perfection and now has US$1.62 trillion in its sovereign wealth fund and has no potholes and no NHS queues. But apart from Sir Keir’s promise to locate the management jobs in Aberdeen – and remembering that he has been known to change his mind before –will Scotland benefit from the new national oil company? Not a chance. As usual the money will go towards London’s vanity projects like the HS2 London to Birmingham railway, or the next generation of nuclear submarines. We will get what London thinks we deserve after deducting the cost of their priorities.

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It has to be put to Sir Keir, and to the Scottish people, that we need a separate Scottish National Oil company funded by 10% of the money which is set aside to create the GB National Oil Company. That way we can make a start on doing as Norway has done for 34 years and use the income to buy into refineries (starting with Grangemouth) and into petrol retail across Europe.

This is our big chance, please don’t blow it as we have done with our heritage in the past. There are plenty of precedents for separate Scottish institutions, from SEPA to Revenue Scotland.

Or are we the country that, as Alister Jack’s believes, will host on the Ayrshire coast one of the nuclear power stations that England needs.

Harry Corrigan
via email