Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has today published its initial response to the feedback received from local stakeholders following the latest round of consultation on the Orkney transmission reinforcement project.
In late September, SSEN held a week-long round of public consultation events with over 400 members of the Orkney community attending across the five days. In excess of 400 written responses to the consultation have also been received and SSEN has now completed its initial review and can confirm some immediate changes to the project design, partly informed by the local feedback received.
In response to the feedback received regarding Finstown substation, SSEN can confirm it has reduced the overall height of the platform by a meter compared to the design presented at the latest round of consultation and the height of the bunding that will help screen the substation buildings will also be increased. Whilst there is a limit to the extent in which the substation height can be reduced due to the risk of flooding if the platform height is reduced below ground level, the impact of these latest changes will help further reduce its visual impact, which has been sensitively designed to be in keeping with the Orkney landscape by housing the substation in a number of buildings of similar design and colour to existing agricultural buildings on Orkney. Updated visualisation images of the proposed site have been published today to highlight the changes to the proposed site, providing direct comparisons against the images SSEN consulted on in September and October.
At Hoxa Head, SSEN can confirm it will underground the transmission infrastructure that will be required if renewable developers in the area proceed with their projects. This decision has been taken due to a number of environmental and engineering factors, including the risk of collision with protected bird species, the visual impact on the Sands of Wright, the proximity to homes in the area and the exposed nature of the peninsula and the risk that spray from the sea could result in damage to overhead transmission infrastructure.
Commenting on the consultation, Lesley Dow, Communities Manager for the Orkney transmission reinforcement project, said:
“We would like to thank all members of the local community for their continued constructive input into the project design. We are pleased to confirm we have made some changes to the substation design at Finstown, which we hope will go some way to address concerns raised.
“With any project of this scale there will inevitably be a visual impact and whilst there are limits to the extent in which we can reduce the height of the substation buildings due to the risk of flooding to the site, we believe the changes we have made will help reduce its visual impact. We hope the local community will recognise our efforts to try and minimise this where we can.
“We are also pleased to confirm that we will underground the proposed infrastructure at Hoxa Head. Whilst the decision to do this is due to a number of factors, the feedback received from the local community regarding the potential visual impact on the peninsula was a contributing factor and we hope that today’s announcement will address those concerns raised by the local community.”
In the coming weeks, SSEN’s project team will continue to assess the responses received as it further refines the project design. Due to the extent of responses received it will not be possible for SSEN to respond to each and every consultation response received and instead, SSEN will shortly publish a set of frequently asked questions and answers to address the common points received through the latest consultation.
SSEN plans to submit its planning applications for the proposed substation at Finstown, the subsea cable and the underground land cable that will connect Finstown to the subsea cable later this year and will update the local community and other interested stakeholders of this milestone in due course.
A final round of public consultation will be held in Spring 2019 on the onshore infrastructure required to connect the various renewable projects looking to connect on Orkney to Finstown substation. The decision to hold a further round of consultation on this element of the project follows extensive and continued interest from the local community and other key stakeholders and will provide those parties a final opportunity to consider and influence the project’s final design. Extending the consultation period for this part of the reinforcement project will also allow SSEN to respond to potential changes to the generation background looking to connect on Orkney.
For more information on the project, including the latest visualisations of the proposed substation at Finstown, please visit: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/orkney/