Energy / Fishing industry less than impressed by SSE’s community spirit

Transmission company has agreed to review its processes

The Genesis LK44 was until recently registered in Banff. Photo: SFA

FISHERMEN have described SSEN Transmission’s decision not to use locally based fishing boats as guard vessels for the Shetland cable project as a “real kick in the teeth”.

Shetland Fishermen Association (SFA) has bitterly complained that electricity giant SSE is using vessels that, it says, are “masquerading as local fishing boats”.

SSEN Transmission said in response that it remains committed to working constructively with the local industry and has agreed to review its approach.

The company is employing the Genesis (now LK 44) and Dauntless (now LK 20) to guard the work being carried out in Weisdale Voe.

The SFA said both vessels were only recently registered in Lerwick, are not active fishing vessels and were until recently registered in Banff – as the Genesis (BF 505) and Norlan (BF 362).


Mate/engineer aboard the Shetland whitefish boat Sharyn Louise (LK 250) Steven Mair said: “Guard work is supposed to help compensate the fishing crews being inconvenienced by offshore developments.

“In the past, guard vessel duty has helped our boat diversify and make ends meet when quotas are tight. Now, we see SSE handing off this work to boats that no longer fish, have never been based in Shetland, employ no Shetland crew and have no Shetland ownership.

“It’s not right, and it’s a real kick in the teeth to see them using LK registrations to secure the work that should have been offered to local crews like us in the first place.”

SFA executive officer Daniel Lawson added that there is a local guard boat operations company which should have been the obvious choice for any community minded energy companies.

However, it was not even given the chance to bid for the Shetland leg of the cable work, he added.

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“This is a real let down: and one that does nothing to endear the Shetland community towards SSE’s already controversial project,” Lawson said.

“Our members would like urgent re-assurance that this won’t be repeated, and to understand if SSE has been hoodwinked here – we certainly want to believe in their commitment towards our members, and to ensure that local fishing crews aren’t overlooked in future.”

Responding to the criticism, SSEN Transmission said: “The guard vessels used by our contractor to support the safe installation of the subsea cable followed a competitive procurement process, which prioritised the use of Scottish vessels.

“It is also our understanding that SFF [Scottish Fishermen’s Federation] were approached to support the Shetland HVDC project, but were unable to meet contractual agreement with our subcontractor.

“We remain committed to work constructively with all local fishery representatives and their representative bodies to explore opportunities to work together in the future.

“As part of this, we have agreed to review our processes to explore how we can further encourage the use of local vessels in the future.”

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