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Following Angus MP Dave Doogan raising SSEN’s flawed consultation on the Kintore-Tealing line on the floor of the House of Commons, the MP has received a written response from Grant Shapps MP, the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

However, Dave Doogan MP has said that the letter “falls far short” of the response his Angus constituents, and anywhere else similarly affected, deserve on this issue.

The letter gives an outline of the current application process, but states that “…whilst there is an expectation for pre-application engagement there is no statutory requirement.” This means that applicants like SSEN do not legally have to consult communities before they submit an application. Further, under the Electricity Act 1989, there is an “expectation” that applicants hold at least two in-person consultation events – but this is not a legal requirement.

Commenting following the letter, Doogan said:

“Despite pressure on the UK Government, there seems to be no appetite from them to introduce meaningful minimum consultation standards for projects like this and to underpin this on a statutory basis.

“My constituents have been badly let down by the SSEN consultation; and this response from the Secretary of State falls far short of what is needed to reassure them that this can never happen again.

“I will continue to press the UK Government on this important failure of UK regulation, and my work with communities over SSEN’s renewed and improved outreach to Angus constituents regarding SSEN’s ambitions in our communities.”

Letter from Grant Shapps MP below (ALT text provided):

Dear Dave, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP Secretary of State Department for Energy Security & Net Zero 1 Victoria Street London SWl H OET Wrm,V.qOV.Uk July 2023  I promised to follow up with further detail on your question raised at Oral Questions regarding consultation requirements and community benefits for transmission netwo rk i nfrastructu re projects. As you are aware the government has committed to fully decarbonising the electricity sector by 2035, and to net zero by 2050. This will ensure we can deliver cheaper, secure and low-carbon energy generation in Great Britain. The transition to net zero will need to be underpinned by new network infrastructure across GB to meet the scale and pace of demand, and to transport electricity where it is best placed to be generated, to where it is needed most. The National Grid Holistic Network Design (HND) sets a recommended design for the location of connections for 23GW of offshore wind, as well as the onshore and offshore transmission infrastructure. This is a transformation in how we deliver offshore wind connections, moving from a radial to a coordinated approach aimed at reducing the amount of infrastructure needed, balancing consumer costs, environmental and community impacts. The Tealing to Kintore line was identified within the HND as a key network infrastructure project for enabling the delivery of government's ambitions for offshore wind by 2030. lt is important to note however that the precise routes to the connection locations identified are left for developers to decide through consultation and the planning process. ln regards to your question on minimum standards for consultation, within Scotland planning consent for overhead transmission lines is granted via Section 37 of the Electricity Act 1989. Through this process whilst there is an expectation for pre- application engagement there is no statutory requirement. Although it is not a statutory requirement under the Electricity Act 1989, there is a minimum expectation according to paragraph 3.2.2 of the Energy Consents Unit Good Practice Guidance, that applicants carry out at least two pre-application public consultation events that are publicised in advance, in order to give members of the public the opportunity to make comments regarding the proposed development. At the final public event, which should be held at least 14 days afterthe first public event, the applicant should

provide feedback to members of the public in relation to the comments raised by them. Once the application has been submitted there are notification requirements which then triggers the consultation period. The planning authority has two months from the date of the application within which to object to the application or such longer period as may be agreed in writing by the planning authority, the Scottish Ministers and the applicant. ln the absence of any exceptional circumstances, any objection not notified within those timeframes may be disregarded by the Scottish Ministers. The local planning authority then submits to the Scottish Government whether there have been any objections or representations that would affect the ability or merits for granting the consent. Where there are objections which are not withdrawn or cannot be addressed through modifications by the Scottish Government it would trigger a public inquiry. The government recognises the impact that network infrastructure can have on local communities and the importance of bringing communities with us in the transition to net zero. We want to ensure communities hosting transmission network infrastructure can benefit from supporting the delivery of cheaper, secure and low- carbon energy for all of Great Britain. We have therefore consulted on proposals for community benefits. The consultation proposed to introduce voluntary guidance on the appropriate forms of benefits, to give communities the knowledge, power and flexibility to decide what benefits they want in consultation with the project developer, and to avoid any delay in ensuring communities are rightly benefiting from hosting this infrastructure. I also understand that SSEN Transmission have recently published a consultation on benefits for communities across the North of Scotland, and I would encourage your constituents to participate to ensure that they receive the benefits they want for their area.

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