A COMMUNITY council is keen to see a proposed 12 kilometre stretch of double row overhead power lines between Sandwater and the Windy Grind above Veensgarth buried underground instead – but this would add another £24 million to the cost of the Shetland Renewables Connections project.
Described as an “eyesore” by community councillor Neil Leask at last night’s meeting of the Tingwall, Weisdale and Whiteness Community Council, the “forest of poles” (Leask) is an essential part of connecting the planned Mossy Hill wind farm to the Kergord converter station.
It would also connect Shetland’s domestic electricity network to the Viking Energy wind farm currently being built in the hills of the central mainland.
Attending an online meeting of the area’s community council, representatives from SSEN-Transmission were challenged particularly on the impact the proposed overhead lines would have on the residents of Veensgarth and at Girlsta.
Project manager Steven MacMillan said the company’s proposal for overhead lines and underground cables was the result of a careful balancing act of many different interests, and cost was one of the considerations.
He said that if “everything is buried no-one in the UK could afford their electricity bills”, adding that the cost difference between overhead lines and underground cable was about £1 million per kilometre.
That would result in additional cost of around £24 million should the double row of overhead lines from the Windy Grid to just south of Sandwater be buried.
The meeting also heard that the cable would run underground along Sandwater because of nesting swans, which prompted chairman Andrew Archer to suggest that the impact of the project on the “people who live here” seemed not to count for anything.
MacMillan insisted that a final decision on how exactly to proceed with the project has not been reached and he urged community councillors to respond to the ongoing consultation exercise which is open until 19 October.
He added: “I can only ask if there are particular sections that you think are visually intrusive please send in details to us and I can promise that we will look at it.
“I can’t promise that all will be undergrounded but I can promise that we will look at it and evaluate it.”
Earlier in the meeting there was again confusion about the conglomerate of SSE companies and the role of SSEN-Transmission.
The question was raised why SSE could not do “something for the community” and bury all the overhead cable proposed for the project, not just the stretch that runs through the Tingwall.
In response project manager Grant Smith SSEN Transmission had nothing to do with SSE Renewables, the company that builds the 103-turbine Viking wind farm.
“They are all very different companies. The company that is on this call is a regulated through [energy regulator] Ofgem, which has been set very specific goals by Ofgem,” he said.
“SSE building the wind farm is a privately funded company; yes you see the SSE overalls but they are different companies.”
MacMillan added: “We are regulated by Ofgem and we need to abide by their rules.”
To respond to the current consultation of the Shetland Renewable Connections project click here.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 530 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News