Existing Network

The existing electricity network is a distribution network operating at 33kV or below, and the Islands are connected to mainland Scotland by two 33kV subsea cables installed in 1982 and 1998 respectively between Rackwick Bay on Hoy, and Murkle Bay near Thurso. These cables have a total capacity of 40MW and the currently connected generation in Orkney uses all of the available export capacity in the existing 33kV cables.

Demand on the islands ranges from 7MW and 46MW and is secured in the event of a network fault with the assistance of a standby diesel generator installed at Kirkwall.

Why the project is required

A number of renewable energy developers in the Orkney Islands have requested a connection to the electricity network. The Orkney connection project would provide a new transmission connection between Caithness and the Orkney Islands, and associated onshore infrastructure required to support this connection.

Progress gallery

Please have a look through the progress gallery to view the development of the project in Orkney.

Finstown Substation Visualisations - September 2018

Please see adjacent both aerial and road view visualisations of the proposed Finstown Substation. Below you will find two videos of the 3D model of the substation from aerial views.

Finstown Substation - Updated Visualisations - November 2018

In response to the feedback received regarding Finstown substation, the overall height of the substation platform has been reduced by a metre 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. Please note that a larger downloadable version of the comparative visualisations is available from the project documentation tab.


Finstown Substation - Updated Visualisations - February 2019

The following visualisations illustrate the recent changes to the proposed Finstown substation following public consultation in late 2018.

The following set of videos illustrate the construction methods that will be used during the Orkney Transmission and Infrastructure Connection Project.

Horizontal Directional Drill - Cable landing

Cable trenching - Onshore

Cable trenching - Subsea

The data in this map is provided for indicative purposes only and may be subject to change. Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc do not accept responsibility for its accuracy, completeness or validity. The data should not be copied, reproduced or utilised externally without permission.

Who is Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks?

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is the trading name of Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution Limited, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution plc and Southern Electric Power Distribution plc.

How are Transmission network upgrades paid for?

Investments in projects are made by SHE Transmission plc. Electricity transmission companies are authorised to recover the costs of such investments through 'use of system' charges which are levied by National Grid Electricity Transmission plc on generators and suppliers of electricity. Suppliers recover their costs from all electricity customers. In order to protect the interests of customers, the transmission companies have to demonstrate to the energy regulator, Ofgem (Office for Gas and Electricity Markets) that proposed investments are necessary, are efficient and are economical so that the charges which are ultimately levied on all electricity customers are justified.

This means SHE Transmission is subject to a funding mechanism established by Parliament and regulated by Ofgem. Cross subsidies between different businesses in the SSE group is not permitted.

How are proposals scrutinised?

The Scottish Ministers are responsible for determination of applications submitted under Section 37 of the Electricity Act 1989. Both statutory consultees and members of the public have the right to submit their representations on the application. All representations will be considered by Scottish Ministers in their determination of the application.
The Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), as the regulator, has to approve all investment so project proposals are developed under license conditions.
Preferred route corridors chosen will comply with revised ‘Holford Rules’ which are the recognised industry approach to routeing overhead lines amended to reflect Scottish circumstances.

What are The Holford Rules?

The Holford Rules originated in 1959 as the result of work by Lord Holford, a part-time member of the Central Electricity Generating Board (National Grid's predecessor). The Holford Rules have been augmented by both National Grid and SHE Transmission plc to reflect environmental legislation and best practice in recent years. We have continued to use them as a valuable set of guidelines for reducing the impact of our assets on landscapes.
The guidance recommends appropriate application of the Holford Rules to inform routeing. These rules advocate the application of a hierarchical approach to routeing which first avoids major areas of highest amenity, then smaller areas of high amenity, and finally considers factors such as backdrop, woodland and orientation. The Holford Rules apply the term ‘amenity’ to refer to environmental designations and classifications such as Natura 2000 sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Scheduled Monuments, Listed Buildings, National Parks.
The guidance also recognises that the key effect of overhead lines is visual and it advises that the routeing of overhead lines should consider the types of mitigation (screening) that could offset any visual effects.
In their National Policy Statement EN-5, the Government has stated that the Holford Rules “should be followed by developers when designing their proposals.” Their use is therefore Government policy, rather than a voluntary choice of SHE Transmission plc.

How and to what extent are electricity consumers' interests considered?

SHE Transmission are regulated by the Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the regulator responsible for representing consumers' interests. Electricity consumer interests are therefore one of our key drivers and this is enshrined in our statutory duties under the Electricity Act.

In particular we have a statutory duty to develop, maintain and operate an efficient, economic and co-ordinated transmission system. Since the costs of these projects will ultimately be paid for by electricity consumers, we have a responsibility to take cost into account with due weighting in a comparison against other important factors.

What is the transmission network?

It’s the highest voltage electricity network in the UK – the ‘motorway network’ of the energy world. It transmits large quantities of electricity over long distances via wires carried on a system of mainly metal towers (pylons) and large substations. Transmission voltages in Scotland are 132kV, 275kV and 400kV. Larger generation schemes usually connect to the Transmission system.

The lower voltage parts of the system are called distribution networks. In Scotland, these local networks operate below 132kV whereas in England the distribution network includes 132kV. 

Finstown Substation Public Consultation

Since previously displaying visualisations of our proposed Finstown Substation at consultation events held in June and September 2018, the SHE Transmission project team have further refined the substation design ahead of submitting a planning application to Orkney Island Council in Spring 2019. We would like to invite all interested parties to an open door event at the Ayre Hotel in Kirkwall on February 6th between 2pm - 7pm to view the revised design. Members of the project team will be on hand to discuss the plans. As well as 2D visualisations, we will have the design rendered on a 3D model for viewing also.

Orkney FAQs

We have pulled together the most frequently asked questions from the 400+ responses received from recent consultation events with the aim of providing clarity on concerns raised throughout the consultation. To access the Frequently Asked Questions document, please see the 'Project documentation' tab.

Archaeology works - Warbeth, Orkney

ORCA (Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology) has today commenced ground investigation work on behalf of SSEN, at Warebeth, the site of the proposed landing point for the 220kV Sub-marine cable we propose to bring in to Orkney from the Scottish Mainland. The purpose of the works is to evaluate the archaeological potential of the site. We are aware of archaeological findings nearby, but there is little data held on this part of Warebeth itself. ORCA will be on site for approximately 7 days, longer if there are any significant findings. The work will consist of 13 (no) 2metre-wide trial trenches, that will be opened by machine, as can be seen in the images taken today on site. Trenches will be infilled every day unless it is required to keep them open for longer to record archaeology, and for the Orkney Island Council Archaeologist to visit. The trenches will be reinstated to grass pasture at the end of the dig, using both the carefully stored turf ORCA have removed, and an appropriate seed mixture. Investigation works will only take place during the (short) daylight hours, and we do not expect there to be any disruption to the local community whilst we carry out these works. We have uncovered nothing of note on the first day of the archaeological dig, but will be sure to share any information if anything of interest is discovered.

Initial response to latest round of consultation

A press release was today issued setting out our initial response to the latest round of consultation on the Orkney transmission reinforcement project. The release can be accessed via the following link: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/news-views/articles/2018/11/ssen-publishes-initial-response-to-latest-round-of-consultation-on-orkney-transmission-reinforcement/. The key points to note however are as follows: • We have reduced the height of the platform at Finstown substation by a meter and increased the bunding that will help screen the substation buildings, reducing its visual impact - updated visualisation images of the proposed site have also been published today to highlight the changes to the proposed site, providing direct comparisons against the images we consulted on in September and October (updated images on project overview tab ). • We have committed to underground the infrastructure at Hoxa Head due to a number of environmental and technical factors • A detailed Q&A will be published and circulated to all Orkney stakeholders setting out our response to all frequently asked questions received. A further update shall be issued once the Q&A is completed and published.

Alignment Consultation Documents

The Orkney Project Team have today uploaded the Northern and Southern Alignment Consultation Documents which have been issued to our statutory consultees to the Project Documentation tab of the project website. These reports effectively summarise the information presented at the public consultation events held in May and September 2018 on our routeing and alignment work, culminating in the preferred alignment we presented at the September event. The aim of these reports is to enable the statutory consultees (OIC, SEPA, SNH and HES) together with other interested parties (RSPB, Community Councils) to respond formally on our proposal to date. This feedback will be used in conjunction with the public consultation feedback to inform the final overhead line design ahead of presenting this in Spring 2019 at the pre-application events. We would ask the Orkney community to continue to respond through the public consultation feedback process which closes on November 2nd 2018.

Public Consultation Events

We are inviting members of the public and all interested parties to attend a series of public consultation events regarding our transmission infrastructure proposals on the Orkney islands. The project team will be in attendance for this open door event where members of the community can drop in at any time to receive information and ask any questions on the proposals. The dates and locations for the next round of Public Consultation Events are – Mon 24th Sept – Stromness Community Centre, Stromness 14:00 – 18:00 Tue 25th Sept – Cromarty Hall, St Margaret’s Hope 14:00 – 18:00 Wed 26th Sept – NorthWalls Community Centre, Hoy 16:00 – 19:00 & Flotta Community Centre, Flotta 09:30 – 13:30 Thu 27th Sept - Firth Community Centre, Finstown 14:00 - 18:00 Fri 28th Sept – Ayre Hotel, Kirkwall 14:00 – 18:00 Tue 2nd Oct – Forss Business Park, Thurso 14:00 – 18:00

Dounby and Orkney County Show

Members of our Transmission and Distribution teams were in attendance last week at both the Dounby and Orkney shows, providing information on the Orkney Transmission Connection and Infrastructure Project whilst talking to local farmers and families about being safe around our electricity network. We were also promoting our free Priority Services which provide extra support to customers who need it most during a power cut.

Public Consultation Events

We are inviting members of the public and all interested parties to attend a series of public consultation events regarding our transmission infrastructure proposals on the Orkney islands. The project team will be in attendance for this open door event where members of the community can drop in at any time to receive information and ask any questions on the proposals. The dates and locations for the next round of Public Consultation Events are – Mon 30th April - The Ayre Hotel, Kirkwall, 14:00 – 19:00 Tue 1st May - Harray Community Centre, Harray, 14:00 – 19:00 Wed 2nd May - Bellevue Hotel, St Margaret’s Hope, 14:00 – 19:00 Thu 3rd May - North Walls Community School, Hoy, 11:00 – 15:00. Please see "Project Documents" tab for Consultation booklet and boards.

Alternative Approach Consultation Feedback

We have today published a report on the consultation we recently ran on the Alternative Approach we are proposing to help unlock Orkney’s renewable potential. This report considers all feedback received during the consultation process and we will further develop the detail of the Alternative Approach based on the feedback received in the summer of 2018. Please see "Project Documentation" tab for the report.

Public Consultation Events

We are inviting members of the public and all interested parties to attend a series of public information events regarding our transmission infrastructure proposals on the Orkney islands. The project team will be in attendance for this open door event where members of the community can drop in at any time to receive information and ask any questions on the proposals. The dates and locations for the next round of Public Consultation Events are – Mon 30th April - The Ayre Hotel, Kirkwall, 14:00 – 19:00 Tue 1st May - Harray Community Centre, Harray, 14:00 – 19:00 Wed 2nd May - Bellview Hotel, St Margaret’s Hope, 14:00 – 19:00 Thu 3rd May - North Walls Community School, Hoy, 11:00 – 15:00

SSEN launch consultation to help unlock Orkney's vast renewable potential

We have today launched a public consultation on the principles, development and framework for the proposed Alternative Approach to the reinforcement of Orkney. In order to ensure we develop a solution that not only works for network companies but also the wider industry and its connection customers, we want to hear stakeholder views. Click on 'Project Documentation' to download the consultation document.
Provide feedback

Community Liaison

Work to progress a transmission reinforcement for Orkney is continuing with effort focussed on developing the design and route options of the proposed subsea link and associated onshore infrastructure (both on the Scottish mainland and within Orkney). We are also continuing to work closely with developers to better understand both their individual and collective requirements. It was our intention to hold a series of engagement events in July and August to provide a progress update to the Community and key stakeholders. When we developed our engagement timetable we had anticipated that certain key regulatory and financial factors, for example that the outcome of the UK Government Contract for Difference (“CfD”) subsidy consultation, would be known and the implications for Island developers understood. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and it may be a further 4 – 6 months before clarity on these key factors is provided. Recognising this uncertainty we have taken the decision to postpone the planned events until late Summer / early Autumn to allow a more comprehensive update to be provided. We will get back in touch when we are in a position to confirm a date for these events. In the meantime if you have any questions then please get in touch either via email (lisa.marchi@sse.com) or via my mobile (07825 015507).

Peat probing surveys will be carried out end of May / early June

Peat acts as a carbon store and supports habitats, flora and fauna unique to Scotland. As part of SSEs commitment to sustainable development, peat probing surveys will be carried out end of May / early June. The surveys involve using an peat probe and Russian Auger corer to identify the depth, characteristics and distribution of peat across the survey areas. This will help us to locate onshore infrastructure away from areas of deep peat, and to minimise the amount of peat we need to excavate.

The first Community Liaison Group meeting

The first Community Liaison Group meeting for the Orkney Connection Project took place at Stromness Library on Monday evening. Many topics were discussed, and some concerns raised about information on display at the earlier public events - mainly around the type of technology which could be used on Orkney. A date was set for the next meeting in July, with a new venue It was agreed that holding the meeting during the day would make it easier for members from Hoy, Greamsay and Flotta to attend. A copy of the minutes of the meeting will be posted on the project webpage, under the project update tab - once agreed. We would like to thank everyone who attended and look forward to developing the Community Liaison Group further and building a strong relationship with the communities.

Orkney Consultation Report May 2017

The consultation report following the feedback we received from the public information events held earlier in the year on Greamsay ,Flotta, Kirkwall, Hoy, Burray, Rendall and Finstown can now be downloaded from the Project Document tab.

Community Liaison Group

We are delighted to announce the first meeting of the Orkney Connection Project Community Liaison Group will take place on Monday 22nd May in the Stromness Library (the John Rae Room) from 7pm to 9pm. By establishing this group so early in the development stage of the project, we will be able to share information on our activities since our recent public information event and going forward. The aim of the group is also to ensure members of the public have local representations to bring forward any concerns the wider community may have. Minutes will be taken at all meetings and published on the project web page.

Bird surveys

April has seen the first month of surveys carried out on Orkney. Bird surveys are needed to allow us to understand the numbers of birds and movements of these birds in areas where we are considering new overhead lines and at possible new substation sites. Not only will this help inform our choice of routes and locations, but it will also help us to put in place appropriate mitigation measures to reduce the impacts of the development on bird species, both during construction, and operation. Surveys will continue for the next twelve months.

Community Liaison Group

If you would like to find out more about joining the Community Liaison Group, please come along for an informal chat at the Ayre Hotel, Kirkwall on Wednesday 19th April from 9am to 12pm in the Annex Meeting Room.

Orkney Project Public Information Events - Thank you

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to come along to our events. We were delighted with the public engagement and will make sure we continue to provide updates on our proposals. The closing date for comments is Friday 31 March 2017 and we would encourage everyone to let us know their thoughts. This is particularly important when we are developing a proposal and we want to understand what local people think about our plans.

Public consultation events

We are hosting a series of open door events where members of the community can drop in to receive further information on our proposals. The events can be found on the events page of our website (https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/events/)

Consultation on treatment of non-mainland GB onshore wind projects

We have today responded to the UK Government consultation on treatment of non-mainland GB onshore wind projects, to read our response please go to the ‘Project documentation’ section of the project website

Project Documentation

Orkney September 2018 Consultation Booklet

Related Projects: Orkney

File Type: pdf
Published: 20 Sep 2018
Unlocking Orkney's renewable potential - Consultation (July 2018)
A consultation to seek stakeholders’ views on the policy development required to implement the Alternative Approach commercial solution for Orkney.

Related Projects: Orkney

File Type: pdf
Published: 29 Jun 2018


Orkney - Kirkwall Feedback - Feb 2019

Orkney - Kirkwall Feedback - Feb 2019

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