National Trust for Scotland

The text of their letter from the Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland to SPEN is as follows:

Dear Ms Rourke,

Proposed Dumfries and Galloway Strategic Reinforcement Project

I am writing to lodge the National Trust for Scotland’s formal objection to the proposed development of electricity transmission lines and pylons across Dumfries & Galloway.

The Trust is the largest conservation charity in Scotland with 330,000 members. We care for treasured places which represent Scotland’s natural, built and cultural heritage. One of the places we care for is Thomas Carlyle’s birthplace at Ecclefechan near Lockerbie. Carlyle, born in the property in 1795, was one of Scotland’s greatest social historians and one of Britain’s most influential writers and thinkers.

We normally confine any planning objections to situations where there would be an immediate impact on the properties in our care. Judging by the maps you have published on your website, your proposed new route for pylons will take in countryside to the immediate north of Ecclefechan and Thomas Carlyle’s Birthplace and therefore will be directly visible from the property.

However, we are also concerned that the wider landscape to be traversed by 50 metre-high pylons will include the area around Craigenputtock and Scotsbrigg. This area also has a close connection with Carlyle’s birthplace and his story.

It was a Craigenputtock House, where Carlyle was resident between 1828 and 1834, that he wrote his classic Sator Resartus and it also during this period that he is credited with coining the term “environment” in its modern usage. It would be ironic if Scottish Power Energy Networks were to fatally damage the very environment that inspired him to do this.

While the proposed route may well have a detrimental impact on our property, which we hold in trust for the nation as a place of vital national heritage importance, it is in our remit to promote and act as advocates for wider natural heritage. We have previously acted to lodge an objection to a wind farm development which would have had significant visual impact on the natural beauty of the area: in our view your proposals represent an even greater threat.

Our staff at Thomas Carlyle’s Birthplace often recommend that visitors tour the surrounding landscape in order to appreciate the surroundings in which he worked. The cultural significance of this nationally important landscape, which is hitherto unspoiled, would be materially diminished by your proposed development.

It is also our view that, although you understandably wish to reduce your costs by running the power lines above ground, underground or sub-sea cabling would be the most appropriate solution in relation to such an important landscape. By adopting the cheapest solution, you will merely be imposing constraints on local businesses and organisations that rely on tourism and natural heritage, including ourselves and, consequently, the benefit for local communities in the area will be minimal if at all present.

Yours sincerely,
Simon Skinner
Chief Executive