Archaeologist welcomes planned electricity network upgrade despite potential impact on Antonine Wall

A Falkirk district archaeologist has “no concerns” over the impact a planned upgrading of the area’s electricity transmission network might have on the Antonine Wall.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:45 pm

SP Energy Networks has launched the first round of public consultation on proposals to enhance the high-voltage grid, which runs from Denny to Wishaw.

The existing network needs to be bolstered to help Scotland and the UK meet net zero climate change targets, as more 'green' electricity flows through the region as part of the transition from fossil fuels like coal and gas to renewable electricity.

The preferred route for the work begins at Bonnybridge Substation and crosses what was once the great Roman barrier.

Geoff Bailey, Falkirk Community Trust's heritage engagement officer. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The upgrade includes plans for a new transmission line between Bonnybridge and a point near Glenmavis, where it will join on to an existing overhead line.

Works are also needed to improve an overhead line between the Denny North and Bonnybridge substations from 275,000 volts to 400,000 volts.

One man who is unperturbed by the plan is Geoff Bailey, Falkirk Community Trust’s heritage engagement officer, who has been involved in discussions with SP Energy for some time.

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Mr Bailey recently published a 600-page book chronicling the history of Roman occupation in the area and is confident all necessary steps will be taken to preserve the World Heritage Site.

He said: “It's a long-term project and they’ve got to choose the best route.

“It’s a question of, ‘Will it destroy the underground archaeology?’

“At the moment they’re looking for the best line so it’s good they’re consulting and we will be amongst the people they’re consulting with, alongside Historic Environment Scotland.

“At the beginning we questioned the need for this but we accept it’s an essential part of the work, it’s just a matter of minimising the impact on the Antonine Wall.

“There was potential in the early discussions for part of the existing line to be removed and replaced with a better one, so the impact may be beneficial rather than negative.

“The Antonine Wall is only one of many factors. I’ve no concerns because the team have been very good so far in letting us know what’s happening and I’m sure we’ll get the best deal we can.”

The formal public consultation period will runs from May 24-June 21.

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