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Energy / Viking Energy construction programme expected to start in August after engineering firm wins contract

An impression of how part of the Viking Energy windfarm could look.

A SCOTTISH contractor has been awarded the contract to build the Viking Energy wind farm – with the construction programme expected to start next month.

Engineering firm RJ McLeod has been awarded the main contract after SSE Renewables confirmed last month it will invest £580 million in the 443MW wind farm.

The contract is said to be “one of the largest contracts of this type ever awarded in Scotland”.

As part of its contract, RJ McLeod’s team will build the network of access tracks through the wind farm site as well as the new Sandwater road, construction compounds, and the bases and crane pads for the turbines.

RJ McLeod will bring “local opportunities to Shetland, ranging from direct employment to plant hire and the supply of materials and other services to support its work”, Viking Energy said.

SSE Renewables director of development Mike Seaton said: “We are delighted to announce RJ McLeod as the civil contractor for our Viking Wind Farm. We have a strong track record of delivering onshore wind farms successfully together.

“SSE Renewables and RJ McLeod are committed to maximising opportunities for the local, Shetland, and wider Scottish supply chain from Viking’s construction and to creating significant employment opportunities while we build this excellent flagship onshore wind project.”

The 103-turbine wind farm is expected to support around 400 jobs at peak construction with many of those expected to be filled by the local workforce in Shetland.

During the operational lifetime of around 25 years, the project is estimated to support 35 local jobs annually.

It is set to be the UK’s largest onshore wind farm in terms of annual output.

RJ McLeod joint managing director Bruce Clark said: “We are very pleased to secure this high-profile contract. RJ McLeod has a wealth of experience of constructing windfarms and contracting successfully for SSE Renewables.

“We are used to working in remote locations, including historic experience of delivering projects in Shetland.

“As a business, we’re committed to approaching this contract in a way which seeks to maximise the opportunities for Shetland businesses.”

Construction of the project is programmed to begin in August and it is set to be completed in 2024.

Work has already begun on an access track to the proposed HVDC converter station at Upper Kergord.

The station is where the proposed 600MW interconnector cable linking Shetland and the Scottish mainland will run too.

Energy regulator Ofgem recently confirmed it approved the cable plans on the condition it is satisfied the Viking Energy wind farm will go ahead.

The wind farm and interconnector remains a divisive project, with campaign group Sustainable Shetland a continued presence against the plans.