A team from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is holding initial consultation events this week as it begins to assess options for a future transmission connection between Orkney and the Scottish mainland.

SSEN, operating under licence as Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, owns and invests in the high voltage electricity network serving the north of Scotland. It is required to develop proposals in response to generation developers seeking to connect within its area. As well as needing to obtain relevant planning consents, plans would ultimately require the approval of energy regulator Ofgem, who would need to be satisfied that generators requiring the link had the financial support in place to proceed.

SSEN previously developed proposals for a cable connection between Dounreay and Orkney’s West Mainland, responding to proposed wave generation developments in that area which were later withdrawn. Its new plans are focused on a cable connection between Caithness and a new substation site which is being sought in the Stenness or Orphir areas. This would be connected to a further central substation site which would need to be identified in the vicinity of Finstown.

Project Development Manager Warren Jones said:

“We are in the very early stages of investigating reinforcement options that could meet the needs of the generators that are now seeking to connect at a number of locations in Orkney, Hoy and South Ronaldsay.

“Our initial role is to investigate options and seek to develop suitable proposals in consultation with local communities and a wide range of specialist consultees. At this stage, no decisions have been taken about substation sites or design options for the infrastructure that connects them.

“We would encourage local residents and anyone else with an interest in our work to attend one of our upcoming events to meet our team, find out more and provide initial feedback on the options under consideration. Further detailed work will follow and our plans will continue to respond to the needs of generators. Any changes in the current contracted position of generators may impact on the design and ultimate need for the proposed reinforcement. If we are able to make progress, there will be further opportunities for local people to contribute as we move towards final proposals.”

Events are taking place on at Flotta Village Hall from 11:30am until 2:30pm on Saturday 25 February; at Graemesay Village Hall from 11am until 3pm on Sunday 26 February; at The Mart in Kirkwall from 10:30am until 4pm on Monday 27 February; at Stromabank Hotel in Hoy from 10:30am until 7:30pm on Tuesday 28 February; at Burray Village Hall from 2pm until 7:30pm on Wednesday 1 March; at Rendall Community Hall from 2pm until 7:30pm on Thursday 2 March; and at Firth Community Centre from 2pm until 7:30pm on Friday 3 March.

A UK Government consultation on the future treatment of non-mainland onshore wind projects closed on 31 January 2017 and confirmation of policy for these generators is expected in the coming months.

More information on the Orkney project can be found on the dedicated project page.

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