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Energy / December weather prompts community council to raise overhead line concern

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

A SHETLAND community council has lodged further concern around overhead lines potentially being installed in the Central Mainland following the power outages caused by weather in December.

The Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council said it supports cables being buried.

The letter, to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit, relates to plans by SSEN to install 11.5 kilometres of two 132kV overhead power lines.

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, with some sections due to be underground.

Developer SSEN has previously spoken about the “significant” extra cost putting cables underground incurs compared to overhead lines.

And in a new statement the energy giant said its plans will ensure a “robust and resilient supply”.

A photo from SSEN Distribution of December’s power disruption.

In December many of the existing overhead lines across Shetland fell after succumbing to ice, causing thousands of properties to suffer a prolonged power cut.

Local teams described the conditions as the worst they had seen in more than 20 years.

This led to some questioning the prospect of new overhead lines being installed in the Central Mainland.

The application for the work is currently sitting with the Energy Consents Unit.

Shetland Islands Council was a consultee, and whilst it offered no objection it called on the applicant to consider the initial objection from the Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council.

In its objection last year, the Tingwall, Whiteness and Weisdale Community Council claimed the impact on local residents living in the areas affected had been understated by the developer.

It felt that the more of the lines should be buried to reduce the impact on residents and the wider community.

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Its latest letter, regarding the weather disruption, was sent in late January.

In response a spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said the fact that two sets of overhead lines are being proposed will boost reliability.

Back-up plans for any faults or outages on the HVDC transmission link between Shetland and the Scottish mainland will also cater for any issues with the network between Gremista and Kergord, the spokesperson added.

They said: “The Kergord to Gremista 132kV transmission circuit will play a critical role in securing Shetland’s future security of supply by connecting Shetland to the GB energy system for the first time, enabling the supply of clean power to homes and businesses.

“To ensure a robust and resilient supply of electricity to meet Shetland’s future needs, our proposals consist of two electricity transmission circuits between Kergord and Gremista.

“This provides additional redundancy in our network so that in the event of a fault or planned outage on either circuit, power can still flow on the other circuit to continue to meet Shetland’s electricity needs.

“Separately, SSEN Distribution is progressing additional back up plans to support security of supply to homes and businesses in the event of a fault or planned outage on the Shetland HVDC subsea link, or in the unlikely event there is a fault on both transmission circuits between Kergord and Gremista.

“We look forward to the outcome of our planning application and remain committed to working closely with Shetland Islands Council, the local community and wider stakeholders to deliver this critical infrastructure to support and secure Shetland’s future energy needs.”

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