Evidence gathering along the Kintore-Fiddes-Tealing route, to develop a new 400 kV overhead electricity line, was due to end last Friday (June 23).
However, communities along the route felt underserved by SSEN’s initial efforts, and Angus was described as an “information desert” by a local councillor after it emerged elected members were missed out from a Forfar area meeting.
An Angus Council motion warning of a public inquiry in the absence of “a gold standard consultation” was brought forward by Conservative councillors, and was agreed unanimously on Thursday. Later that afternoon SSEN indicated it would extend the consultation until July 28.
Andrew Bowie, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP, said the move was “the right thing to do” because of local feedback on the process so far. He and Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Gougeon met with representatives from the power company recently to put constitents’ concerns to them directly.
He said: “I was pleased to meet SSEN bosses a couple of weeks ago with Mairi Gougeon and discussed how many people felt disengaged with the amount of information provided, and they want more opportunity to feed back.
“The majority of responses I have had recognise the need for vital infrastructure to connect renewable power sources with communities across the UK. It’s the process so far which has been criticised. More time will allow the company to get the lay of the land.”
Angus Conservative group leader Councillor Derek Wann, who brought the emergency motion to the full council, said: “The motion to consider a public inquiry was in response to constituents coming to local councillors in pure panic, mainly because they were finding out about these plans secondhand or in an incomplete way. My hope is this window will give residents along the route time to fully digest what’s proposed, feed back to SSEN and get the local democratic input they feel is missing.”