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Lerwick power station plans submitted

PLANS for a new power station that could run on natural gas north of Lerwick have been submitted to the Scottish government.

Proposals drawn up by Scottish & Southern Energy would see a site at Rova Head being dug out of a hill and the rock used to reclaim part of a neighbouring bay for industrial use.

SSE say a peak of 400 people could be employed during the three year building phase, though the average size of the construction workforce would be 60.

The company is planning a 120 megawatt power station to be run initially on light fuel oil, but with the potential to convert to natural gas should pipes be laid from the new gas plant being built at Sullom Voe.

The proposal is almost twice the size of the existing 67MW power station at Gremista, built in 1953 and due to close by 2017, but is designed to cater for any potential increase in demand.

Project development manager Jim Lawrie said: “This approach gives us the flexibility we need to meet Shetland’s full electricity needs under all possible circumstances.

“It also means the environmental studies that have been carried out are based upon the largest possible impacts from the site.”

The plans have been changed following extensive consultation, including two public sessions at Shetland Museum & Archives in May 2012 and June this year, to include reclaiming part of the Bight of Vatsland and to realign the road by 20 to 30 metres.

“At the recent event in June, a number of people asked about the size of the excavation proposed and what would be done with the rock. We have since looked at this again and identified a solution which would bring a number of benefits,” Lawrie said.

The plans include a steel-framed building to house engines, boilers, turbines, generators, transformers, offices and welfare facilities, with two 73 metre chimney stacks and tanks able to store up to 17,000 tonnes of light fuel oil.

SSE say the new power station will reduce Shetland’s carbon emissions, especially as it will be tied in with the Lerwick district heating scheme.

It is also being designed around the ambitious NINES (Northern Isles New Energy Solutions) ‘smart grid’ project to introduce more electrical storage capacity on the Shetland network, including a 1MW battery to be housed beside the station, so that more renewable energy generation can be introduced in the isles.

Both air and seawater cooling systems are being assessed at the moment, with a berm to be built into Bressay Sound if a water cooling system is to be adopted.

SSE believe there will be minimal environmental impact on local wildlife and landscape; an archaeological survey will be carried out before a field clearance cairn is removed from the site.

Almost 120,000 cubic metres of peat will be removed and then used to reinstate the landscape and road verges.

All but 35,000 cubic metres of rock will go into the reclaimed site at Bight of Vatsland, the rest going to landfill or Staney Hill quarry for re-use.

SSE say they will be looking at possible short term accommodation plans for construction workers due to the shortage of beds in Shetland with the work going on at Sullom Voe over the next few years.

The power station will be the main source of electricity for the isles, and in the event of a subsea cable connecting Shetland to the national grid to export power from the planned Viking Energy wind farm, it will serve as a back up facility.

A summary of the plans can be seen here.

Copies of the submission documents, including the full environmental statement, are available for public viewing at Shetland Islands Council’s North Ness headquarters and at Shetland library.

Representations can be submitted to the Scottish government until 4 November by email to or by post to The Scottish Government, Energy Consents Unit, 4th Floor, 5 Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, Glasgow G2 8LU.

Any questions about the plans can be raised with SSE’s liaison manager Gavin Steel on or 01463 728109.