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Energy / Campaign group objects to cable application

Photo: SSEN Transmission

CAMPAIGN group Sustainable Shetland has formally objected to plans for a 600MW subsea transmission link which would connect the isles to the national grid, saying it is part of the “industrialisation of the scenic Weisdale valley”.

Writing in an objection to a works licence application recently submitted to Shetland Islands Council, group chairman Frank Hay said that “combined with the converter station and the Viking wind farm the impact on everyone who lives in the area will be fairly dramatic”.

He added that it would be an “unacceptable price to pay for the questionable benefits of so called ‘green energy’”.

A works licence is required for proposals up to 12 nautical miles from shore, and SHE Transmission’s application offers more details about what would be involved if work is undertaken to lay the cable.

Last week energy regulator Ofgem said it was minded to approve the cable, which would run between Weisdale Voe and Caithness, if there was sufficient evidence that the proposed 103-turbine Viking Energy wind farm would go ahead.

The cable would pave the way for proposed wind farms to export energy, while power could also be sent north from the mainland if needs be.

Sustainable Shetland – which says the isles do not need large wind farms – maintains that it has not been demonstrated that there are “no unacceptable impacts on people in the potential development of large scale renewable resources on these islands”, which the group says should be taken into account when considering the application.

He also points towards the “intermittent and unreliable” wind energy, while Hay also calls into question the viability of the cable if oil and gas platforms end up being powered from Shetland as “electricity for export would be reduced”.

Hay continues to say that the proposed landing site for the cable is “far from ideal and should be re-evaluated”, while he claims aquaculture and shellfish businesses which work in Weisdale Voe would be adversely affected.

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The application has also received some objections from the public, with two residents of Yell saying the island will be “destroyed” by wind farms if they go ahead there.

The 17-turbine Beaw Field wind farm in Yell already has approval, while 23 turbines are also proposed for the island by Energy Isles.

Another says the cable plans are “not suitable for Shetland in so many ways”, while another objector raised concerns over the “detrimental effects of electric and magnetic fields emitted by submarine power cables on invertebrates”.

Another objection says the “whole idea of using mainland Shetland as a wind farm to supply the rest of the Scotland/UK is abominable for so many reasons” – such as “the cost, the disruption, the health issues, the danger to wildlife, sea life, fauna and flora”.

SSEN Transmission said that “as well as unlocking Shetland’s renewable potential, the link would help address Shetland’s security of supply needs as well as offering Shetland’s oil and gas sector a unique opportunity to decarbonise its operational electricity requirements, delivering a whole system approach to support the transition to net zero emissions”.

Scottish energy, connectivity and islands minister Paul Wheelhouse, meanwhile, said Ofgem’s conditional approval of the link was “fantastic news for Shetland”.

“We have long argued for this vital link to be approved, so I am delighted with the positive decision by Ofgem who are now showing the pragmatism and flexibility that is needed at a time of a climate emergency,” he said.

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