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Energy / Electricity network ground investigations paused due to breeding birds

SOME of the ground investigation work for Shetland’s proposed new electricity transmission network has been halted for the time being due to breeding birds and otter holts.

The area in question is around Cul Ness in the north east of the Shetland mainland.

A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said staff are working to find an “appropriate time window and secure the relevant licensing” to continue the work.

The ground investigations have taken place over the last number of weeks along the route where SSEN proposes to install overhead lines and underground cables, stretching from Lerwick to Yell.

These lines and cables will be needed once Shetland is connected to the national grid through the subsea transmission link between the isles and Caithness.

The ground investigations involve borehole drilling of up to 15 metres below ground level and mechanical excavation of pits of up to three metres below existing ground level.

The work will help to inform the final design of the proposed overhead line and cable routes.

A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said: “We continue to make good progress with the ongoing ground investigation works for the proposed 132kV circuits from Kergord to Gremista and from Kergord to Yell.

“We’re working closely with specialists including local ecologists and archaeologists who are surveying the area ahead of and during our ground investigations to ensure nothing is overlooked.

“The remaining works around Cul Ness have been temporarily paused to take into account the number of breeding birds and otter holts within the agreed work exclusion zones, which has impacted on the few remaining bore holes which need to be completed.

“We’re working with NatureScot and [contractor] BAM to find an appropriate time window and secure the relevant licensing, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to avoid disturbing the wildlife.

“Once the investigations are complete we’ll review all samples to understand the existing ground conditions which will inform the design of the proposed infrastructure.

“As ever we thank the local community for their continued patience while we continue with this essential work, and ensure them we’ll do all we can to minimise any disruption.”