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Energy / Marine licence application in for subsea cable

The route for the proposed interconnected.The route for the proposed cable.

THE TEAM behind the proposed 600MW interconnector between Shetland and the Scottish mainland has submitted a marine licence application for the subsea cable.

It follows two rounds of public consultation events last year.

The Shetland HVDC link project, which is being led by SSEN Transmission, would connect Shetland to the national grid for the first time and allow large scale wind farms to export energy.

As Lerwick Power Station gets set to close by 2025, it would also allow electricity to be imported into Shetland.

A marine licence application is a sizeable milestone for the project, but the subsea cable still requires approval from energy regulator Ofgem.

Marine licences are often needed for activities in around the sea, such as construction and dredging.

Ofgem was previously minded to approve the cable, but Viking Energy’s failure to secure government subsidy last year meant that the regulator sought a revised proposal.

The cable is dependent on the 103-turbine Viking Energy project getting the go-ahead.

The plans are for the cable to be laid from Caithness into Weisdale Voe before it runs to a proposed converter station at Upper Kergord.

A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said: “Following two sets of public events in July and October of last year, which allowed us to seek comment from a wide range of local stakeholders and consultees, SSEN Transmission has now submitted a marine licence application to Marine Scotland for the HVDC subsea cable which will link Shetland to mainland Scotland.

“The proposed subsea cable circuit is approximately 250km in length, between Weisdale Voe and Noss Head and the cable bundle will consist of two conductor cables and one fibre optic communications cable, to allow control of the substation and HVDC converter station.”

Archaeological assessments recently began in the Kergord and Weisdale area to inform the planning and construction phase.

Last year’s ground investigation work for the Viking Energy wind farm, meanwhile, has been shortlisted for a national award.

Contractor BAM Ritchies and consultant engineers Tony Gee are up for an award in the Ground Engineering Awards 2020.

Viking Energy said local sub-contractor Frank L Johnston, Lerwick Port Authority, MBEC Environmental Consulting, geotechnical consultants Natural Power, Headland Archaeology and helicopter operator PDG Aviation Services “all contributed to the success of the works”.

Some concerns were raised in the community, however, over the impact of the ground investigations on the local environment.

Local contractor Garriock Bros, meanwhile, has completed its contract to alter the Sandwater road to improve safety and visibility.

The work, which consisted of new passing places and junction alternations, was requested by Shetland Islands Council.

The alterations are in preparation for the road being used by construction traffic from later this month during the building of an access track for the electricity convertor station at Upper Kergord.