Around 150 campaigners recently convened in New Deer’s community hall to oppose the construction of 60m tall pylons and large substations by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) on agricultural land.

The plans, including the Netherton and ‘New Deer 2’ substations, have frustrated locals who feel their concerns are being disregarded.

The meeting began with discussions on the health risk of overhead pylons, damage to private water supplies and the potential declines in nearby property values.

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Studies quoted by speakers suggested properties near pylons could lose up to 44% of their value, prompting laughter among the audience when SSEN’s claim of no impact on property values was mentioned. Presentations then covered the extensive land use required for the substations, totalling 842 acres.

Gwen Chalmers, independent agricultural consultant and farmer of a small herd of pedigree Shorthorns, commented: “The proposed pylon route passes roughly 750m to the South of our small holding and over the top of our farm road. We are in the scoping area for the Stromar substation and underground cable corridor, but as yet no official decision has been made on the exact route or location of substation.”

Political figures, including Richard Thompson (SNP), Harriett Cross (Conservative), and Conrad Wood (Liberal Democrat), attended to address these concerns in Westminster.

Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, also appeared, although SSEN chose not to send a representative due to the forthcoming general election. This absence allowed attendees to voice frustrations directly to the politicians.

Ms Martin faced criticism and attempted to redirected questions, emphasising the need for a code of practice to ensure companies consider residents’ concerns. Mr Thompson received taunts, particularly for his unfamiliarity with JP Marks, a key government figure. Ms Cross tried to recover support against SSEN, but her efforts were met with scepticism.

An SSEN Transmission spokesperson later commented following their absence: “To help deliver UK and Scottish Government energy security and net zero targets, we have been tasked with delivering a series of critical national electricity transmission infrastructure projects across the north of Scotland, which are part of a wider upgrade of the transmission network across Great Britian. These investments are key to deliver against endeavour for a cleaner, more secure and affordable energy system for future generations.

“As a stakeholder-led business, consultation is a crucial part of our project development process, and we are committed to transparency in relation to our plans. With this in mind, we have contacted the community group to discuss the possibility of a future meeting involving renewables developers planning to connect to our proposed Greens 400kV substation, where all stakeholders can discuss the scope of potential development.

They reiterated: “We continue to consult extensively with local communities on the Greens 400kV substation project and Beauly to Peterhead (BBNP) overhead line development and would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to engage in our consultation events. We’re continuing to assess all feedback received, which will be carefully considered to help inform the ongoing development of our projects.”

Despite raising more questions than answers, the crowded hall demonstrated strong community opposition. Campaigners believe continued demonstration and delays might force SSEN to reconsider their plans, feeling excluded from a process that directly impacts their lives.