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Energy / Electricity transmission company presents ‘narrowed down’ options for connecting wind farms to network

SSE’s consultation event in Lerwick on Tuesday was met with a small-scale protest

John and Alison Johnson staging a short Save our Shetland protest outside Shetland Museum and Archives on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THERE was a steady stream of people attending SSEN Transmission latest exhibition on Tuesday to gather feedback on the company’s plans to connect wind farms in Yell and outside Lerwick to the national grid once Shetland links to the mainland in 2024.

However, outside the Shetland Museum and Archives there was some dissent to Shetland becoming a green energy supplier for the rest of the UK in the form of a Save Our Shetland banner, while Sovereign Shetland campaigner Stuart Hill served a notice saying SSEN Transmission had no right to be in the isles.

John Johnson, from Sandwick, said many local people were still not realising how big “these wind turbines” were going to be, and expressed the view that there was a majority of islanders against Viking Energy and other wind farm developments, but frustratingly, he said, local people tended to voice their opinion only once it was too late.

There were comparisons with the Scottish lairds exploiting Shetlanders in the 1800s, and one lady said that once they [the big companies] had “a foot in the door, you can’t get rid of them again”.

Inside the auditorium, staff from SSEN Transmission put up display boards showing the infrastructure needed for what is called the Shetland Renewable Connections project.

A SSEN Transmission visualisation of the Gremista Grid Supply Point building at Lerwick’s Port Business Park.

Project manager Steven McMillan said the various options for routing underground cables and overhead lines had been ”narrowed down” as the result of two previous consultations in June last year and earlier this summer.

He added that what is being presented to islanders this week is effectively what will be submitted to planning authorities early in 2022, although “there is still a chance for changes”.

Some of the infrastructure will be built under ‘permitted development’ rights, and will not have to go through the planning process.

As it stands, the following infrastructure is set to be built over the coming years:

  • A combination of underground cable and overhead lines from the Kergord converter station, connecting the substation of the Mossy Hill wind farm and the proposed Gremista Grid Supply Point (GSP) from where renewable energy will be fed into the existing electricity network. This will replace the Lerwick power station which will be kept as a back-up until at least 2035;
  • A planning application for the Gremista Grid Supply Point, to be built on land behind Ocean Kinetics at Lerwick’s Port Business Park is set to be submitted in November this year with construction work scheduled to commence in spring 2023;
  • To connect the Beaw Field wind farm in Yell, an underground cable will run to the Burravoe landfall from where a subsea cable will be laid to Cul Ness, in Lunna. From here electricity will be routed via overhead lines to the Kergord converter, mainly following the route of the existing network;
  • Some of the existing network, operated by SSEN Distribution, is set to be re-routed and might go underground;
  • A new switching station, just north of the village of Burravoe in Yell, to connect the two wind farms planned for Yell – Beaw Field and Energy Isles. This has been pushed back until at least 2023 as Energy Isles currently has no planning consent.
The connections to the Kergord converter station will be done by underground cable.

McMillan said: “We are SSEN Transmission, we are contracted to provide connections from the wind farms to Kergord, and contracted to provide a connection to SSEN distribution at Gremista GSP, as that is where eventually Shetland will be supplied with electricity as that substation will connect into the existing distribution network.

“We have narrowed down options and have come up with preferred solutions and alignments, but it is still not fixed in stone. If there is some feedback from a member of the public or a landowner or other stakeholders we can still make changes, but we hope at this stage that what we are proposing is feasible.”

Further consultation meetings will take place today (Wednesday) at the Burravoe Hall, in Yell, and in the Vidlin Hall on Thursday (9 September), with both exhibitions running from midday to 7pm.

In addition a virtual event has been organised for 14 September from 12pm -1.30pm and 5.30pm – 7pm.

More information can be found here.