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Controversial generator plans approved

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By Marcter McLean and David Dubas-Fisher
Dumfries and West
Controversial generator plans approved

AN energy firm was last week given the go ahead to install a new substation near homes in a small Galloway village despite opposition from the householders.

However, Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) has been in discussion with the residents in Kendoon and has vowed to do everything possible to minimise any disruption.

SPEN was given planning permission by Dumfries and Galloway Council to install a large generator, diesel tank, and erection of a three-metre high steel fence on land within the company’s current power station compound.

The site is located around four miles from St John’s Town of Dalry and is surrounded mainly by agricultural land, however there are several houses nearby in Kendoon.

And six villagers had lodged objections with the council, complaining about the potential “noise and impact on residential amenity”.

They have also argued that the move would have an adverse effect on protected species of wildlife, such as red squirrels, otters, bats and newts.

However, a spokesman for SPEN gave assurances that the generator wouldn’t create any noise – apart from one hour per month where testing was being done on it.

David Suttie, the council’s chief planning officer, explained that the infrastructure is actually a back-up system in the event of the UK grid losing power.

He said: “This is part of a UK-wide electricity grid scheme called Blackstart whereby hydro and pump storage schemes will be used to restart generation and grid services in the situation where the entire United Kingdom was offline power wise.

“So really what this would be is a standby generator to operate the switches at the substation to divert power.

“In theory, you would hope that this would never actually be operational. It’s not something that’s going to be running 24 hours a day, it’s clearly a standby generator.”

Patrick Barbour, representing SPEN at the planning committee, said: “Since the objections were received to the current application and the concerns were highlighted, representatives from the SPEN project team and community liaison teams have met with the residents of Kendoon and responded in as much detail as possible to their concerns.

“Since discussions with the residents, alternative site locations were revisited, an updated ecology report was commissioned and undertaken, and additional information on noise and various safety concerns was also provided.

“We’re also committed to remaining engaged with the residents as the works progress through the construction period.”

Councillors unanimously approved the planning application, but with a directive attached that any testing of the standby generator should be undertaken during normal working hours.

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