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Lairg-Loch Buidhe transmission reinforcement project

18. April 2024

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Ramboll is a leading international architecture, engineering, and consultancy company, owned by the Ramboll Foundation.

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As Scotland strives to derive 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, the Lairg-Loch Buidhe transmission reinforcement project faced a challenge as the energy goals put pressure on the nation’s infrastructure, requiring extensive development.

The infrastructure development’s proximity to multiple protected areas raised concerns about potential harm to local sensitive species and habitats. Ramboll’s ornithologists conducted thorough assessments and identified five sites with statutory ornithological interest. Of particular concern was the black-throated diver, a rare species on the UK Amber List. Following baseline assessments revealed potential threats, such as habitat loss, nest destruction, and disturbance of individual birds.


Ramboll, in partnership with Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), and in collaboration with Scotland’s Nature Agency, NatureScot, developed a tailored survey methodology. This approach assessed the risks related to the proposed infrastructure impact on black-throated divers.

In response to the assessment, Ramboll implemented strategic mitigation measures to ensure a minimal impact on the protected bird species. Line markers were installed along four kilometers of the overhead line to reduce the likelihood of bird collisions. Additionally, the development incorporated specially designed rafts, enhancing breeding conditions for black-throated divers.


The Lairg-Loch Buidhe transmission reinforcement project achieved a successful outcome by navigating the balance between expanding energy infrastructure and safeguarding local wildlife. Ramboll’s collaborative efforts with NatureScot and diver specialists resulted in a tailored collision-risk model and effective mitigation measures.

The installation of line markers and inclusion of rafts contributed to the project proceeding without negative impacts on the black-throated diver population. This demonstrated the feasibility of harmonising energy development and biodiversity preservation but also showcased the potential for sustainable coexistence between infrastructure growth and environmental protection in Scotland.