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Energy / Feedback on overhead power lines proposal opened up to full council

A visualisation of what the lines in the Central Mainland could look like. Image from SSE.

ALL councillors will now have the chance to have a say about proposed new overhead power lines in Shetland’s central mainland – not just the planning committee.

Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) planning committee met on Monday to give their feedback on the plans, but stand-in chairman Davie Sandison successfully got the matter deferred to the next full council meeting so all elected members could be involved instead.

The project in question aims to link Lerwick and Kergord as part of Shetland’s new energy set-up once the isles are connected to the national grid via a subsea transmission link.

Two 132kV overhead lines would run in parallel over the 11.5km distance, meaning that there is essentially more than 20,000 metres of line at play.

They are required to connect a planned grid supply point in Gremista, and the consented Mossy Hill wind farm outside of Lerwick, to a new substation in Kergord.

An application was previously submitted by developer SSEN Transmission to the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit for the work.

The SIC is a formal consultee, which is why the application had gone in front of the planning committee.

John Holden from the council’s planning service said he had been in touch with the applicant and the energy consents unit earlier, and he did not foresee any problems with deferring.

There has been some concern in the community over the fact the lines are overhead – with some calling for them to be buried instead.

This reflects the view of Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Council, but the developer has spoken of the increased cost of doing so.

In a report to councillors, the planning service said it is “inevitable” that the construction of the overhead lines will have an impact on natural heritage and ecosystems, while there will be a visual effect too.

But it concluded: “On balance it is considered that the economic benefits and the environmental benefits of carbon reduction outweigh the impact on the landscape and habitat interests tempered with the knowledge that well designed mitigation measures will go some way to reduce any negative impacts.”

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