Major jobs boost for the north of Scotland as community-led changes to £20bn electricity upgrades announced

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  • SSEN Transmission to recruit 400 new roles across the north of Scotland in the next 12 months as £20bn clean energy infrastructure programme gathers pace

  • Recruitment drive comes as SSEN Transmission unveils major changes to planned upgrades, in response to community and stakeholder feedback

  • Following recent UK Government Community Benefit announcement, communities across the north of Scotland in line for over £100m of community benefit funding and money off bills for those located closest to new infrastructure

  • SSEN Transmission also sets out ambitious plans to contribute to the development of 200 properties across the north of Scotland, which following completion of the projects, will support local housing requirements

SSEN Transmission will recruit 400 new employees across the north of Scotland in the next 12 months and is setting out ambitious plans to contribute to the development of 200 properties across the north of Scotland as a legacy of its Pathway to 2030 £20bn investment programme that will deliver an electricity grid that unlocks Scotland’s potential to be a clean energy powerhouse.

The investment programme consists of new overhead lines, substations, convertor stations and subsea links and is part of a major upgrade of the electricity transmission system across Great Britain. These works are required to meet UK and Scottish Government energy security and climate change targets, with the need for these investments independently assessed by the Electricity System Operator, and approved by the independent energy regulator, Ofgem.

The recruitment drive, which will create long-term, skilled, green employment opportunities across the north of Scotland, comes as SSEN Transmission announces major changes to its upgrade plans following extensive early consultation with local communities and stakeholders.

Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission, said:

“This is one of the biggest investment programmes in the north of Scotland for almost a century. Our £20bn programme will help unlock cleaner, more secure energy for homes and businesses for generations to come.

“The north of Scotland can be a clean energy powerhouse and is set to play a leading role in delivering UK and Scottish Government energy security and net zero targets, but the benefits go way beyond energy. 

“Our investments will enable thousands of skilled, green jobs across the region, placing multi-million-pound contracts with local supply chain partners and investing in community funds - creating billions of economic value for Scotland.

“The benefits are compelling, but as with any major infrastructure programme, we need to ensure that we effectively consult and act on the views of local communities. This is exactly what we are doing, and in outlining a range of significant alterations to our plans today – directly in response to community feedback – we have shown that we will act on the views of our stakeholders wherever possible.

“We now look forward to ongoing constructive engagement with local communities and wider stakeholders to help further inform the development of this critical national infrastructure in a way that balances the needs of all stakeholders, alongside delivering a lasting and positive legacy, unlocking the north of Scotland’s energy and economic potential.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf said:

“SSEN Transmission’s Pathway to 2030 programme is a major investment in the future of our electricity networks in the north of Scotland, and this latest announcement demonstrates it is paying dividends in terms of creating long-term, high quality green jobs as well as benefits for the wider economy.

“Projects like this embody and support the ambitions of our draft Energy Strategy, and will be vital to delivering a fair and just transition for our energy workers. It is clear that SSEN Transmission is committed to investing in the skills and talent in the north of Scotland as we move towards that crucial just transition to net zero, which is necessary not just for our energy needs, but for the sake of the planet.”

Major changes following community feedback: Publication of Reports on Consultation

SSEN Transmission has today published Reports on Consultations across its three new overhead line projects and associated substation and convertor station developments. These reports provide a summary of the extensive feedback received, how this has been considered and confirmation of which routes and substations are now being taken forward to the next stage of development.

Changes to the plans informed by the feedback include:

  • At Blackhillock in Moray, the proposed new substation site is moving from that consulted on earlier this year to the east of Keith, to one of the other shortlisted sites to the south east of the existing Blackhillock substation.
  • The previously proposed new substation at Fiddes in the Mearns is moving to a new site in Fetteresso Forest in close proximity to the existing Fetteresso substation.
  • Several changes to and decisions on overhead line routes to reduce community impacts.

In further recognition of community feedback, SSEN Transmission will seek to rationalise cumulative infrastructure impacts through the removal and undergrounding of existing transmission lines, where technically practical and appropriate, and subject to all necessary planning consents and landowner agreements.

Work to identify and assess potential sections of existing overhead line where their removal will reduce cumulative impacts is ongoing, with an update expected as part of the next round of public consultation on overhead line alignments and more detailed substation designs in early 2024.

Community Benefit

Following the recent UK Government community benefit announcement, SSEN Transmission expects over £100m of wider community benefit funding to be available to local communities across the north of Scotland. This significant pot of funding will enable lasting legacies to be delivered across the region, helping communities prosper.

Applications for SSEN Transmission’s initial £10m community benefit fund will open in Summer 2024, with first funds expected to be disseminated by the Autumn. To oversee the delivery of its community benefit fund, SSEN Transmission will also shortly be recruiting for a new independent board.  

A lasting accommodation legacy for local people in the north of Scotland

To ensure that the development of these critical infrastructure projects impact local people and places in a positive way, SSEN Transmission is also announcing the first part of its accommodation strategy.

This includes a commitment to contribute to the development of at least 200 properties across the north of Scotland, which upon completion of the transmission infrastructure projects, will be handed to local organisations to provide accommodation for local people across the north of Scotland, delivering a lasting legacy for future generations.   

This is expected to include new and renovated homes, as well as fully serviced sites for temporary accommodation camps for workers, delivered to the standard required to support future housing and wider economic development activities.

To help inform its accommodation strategy SSEN Transmission has commenced engagement with Local Authorities and wider stakeholders to help identify local property needs in location of projects, including to help address the rural housing crisis.

Regional Updates

  1. Kintore-Tealing 400kV Overhead Line Project: Proposed new substation at Fiddes moving to Fetteresso Forest as SSEN Transmission publishes Reports on Consultations
  2. Spittal-Loch Buidhe-Beauly 400kV Overhead Line Project: Reports on Consultations sets out decisions on overhead line routes and substation locations
  3. Beauly-Blackhillock-New Deer-Peterhead 400kV Overhead Line project - Proposed new substation at Blackhillock to move sites as SSEN Transmission publishes Reports on Consultations

To see the reports on consultation for each of our 'Pathway to 2030' projects, see the dedicated project pages on our website.