Trikky bill of £50,000 at cottage

Alan Brash in his Dippoolbank Cottage'near Auchengray'7/2/13
Alan Brash in his Dippoolbank Cottage'near Auchengray'7/2/13

THE entry fee to the 21st century for the man living in possibly the last home in Clydesdale not connected to the National Grid is a shocking £50,000.

That’s what ScottishPower want to bill popular local artist and gardener Alan Brash to plumb Dippolbank Cottage near Braehead into the power supply more than eighty years after the rest of the area `went electric’.

Not the pushiest of men, he decided to inquire about getting connected to the grid 35 years after moving into the remote cottage, where he has made a living as an artist and created one of our area’s most beautiful gardens, regularly open to the public to raise cash for charities such as our own local cause, The Little Haven.

He explained: “I’m told that, way, way back when the farms and outlying cottages were first being connected to the National Grid, there was a charge of something like fifty quid. The person who owned Dippolbank at the time thought this was a bit steep and never had the place connected. When I inquired first about getting connected a while back, ScottishPower told me the charge had gone up to £43,000!”

The Gazette learned this week that ScottishPower has since re-estimated the cost at an even more shock-provoking £50,000.

The artist and his late wife moved in back in the 1970s and raised four children in what was a very happy if isolated home, dependent on an old diesel generator for power.

“There are scores of old films we never got to see the end of; we would be sitting there watching the wee portable and it usually faded out after an hour or so as the generator ran out of fuel.”

Even with more recent power sources – a small wind turbine and solar panels – Alan must have among the smallest `carbon footprints` in Europe, his lighting being two tiny energy-saving bulbs; he puts on the wood-fired central heating system about once a week.

“I know a lot of people come up here to visit the garden, look at the scenery and say what a wonderful, peaceful and simple place it must be to live in during this modern age. I say it IS a wonderful place to live - in the summer!

“I’m in my mid-sixties now and on my own living here and the winters aren’t getting any warmer. Soon, I won’t be able to survive without a grid supply.”

The estimate stunned him as it is way beyond the means of an artist who lives on commission.

“I asked them if they thought it was a remote island I was living on. I’m in the middle of the Central Belt of Scotland!

“I can even see out the window the nearest farm 500 metres away which is connected to the grid. I even offered to dig the trench myself for them to put their cable in to save them money but they said that that would be against regulations.”

A ScottishPower spokeswoman defended its stance, saying: “Our charges are agreed with Ofgem and are dictated by the connection charging regulations.

“Mr Brash has an option to go to another company for a quote; he doesn’t have to accept our quote.

“To carry it out, we would be required to build a high voltage overhead line stretching 700 metres, consisting of eight poles and all associated work required for each pole, erecting and connecting a new transformer, and laying and jointing an underground service to the property.”