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Energy / SSEN says it will ‘work closely’ with community as overhead line project progresses

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

SSEN Transmission has welcomed government approval of its plans for new overhead power lines in Shetland’s Central Mainland, which will cover a distance of around 12km – and has pledged to “work closely” with the community as the project advances.

The Scottish Government’s energy consents unit approved the application during the week amid local concern over the impact large overhead power lines would have on residents.

Along with some underground cable, the overhead lines will help to link a new Gremista grid supply point in Lerwick with the Kergord substation.

Upon completion, the Kergord-Gremista project will provide a connection to Shetland’s local electricity distribution network, linking the islands to the national grid for the first time. It will also enable connection for the planned Mossy Hill wind farm on the outskirts of Lerwick.

SSEN said the project will consist of two 22km circuits, which will be a combination of 132kv overhead line and underground cabling.

The overhead lines will be larger than existing poles in Shetland, and there will be two running in parallel to ensure reliability.

The first phase of the project involves a section of around 4km of underground cabling from Gremista to connect with the start of the overhead line near Veensgarth.

From there approximately 12km of overhead line will continue in the direction of Kergord, before going underground again near Sandwater for around 5km towards its termination point at Kergord substation.

Local firm EMN Plant said it has been named as preferred contractor to undertake the civil works for “section one” of the installation of the underground cable from the new substation in Kergord to the new grid supply point in Lerwick.

“Work is currently due to commence on the 27th of June 2023 with the main works due to run until around September 2024,” it said in a post on social media.

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It said section one involves the installation of approximately 57km of underground ducting, around 4.5km of access roads and various other items. EMN is recruiting for a number of positions for the work.

SSEN Transmission has also committed to putting underground around 11km of existing 33kV electricity distribution overhead network infrastructure running in parallel with the proposed 132kV overhead lines and 500m of existing electricity 11kV distribution overhead network infrastructure.

In a bid to offset biodiversity loss from the project, there are proposals for a peatland restoration scheme on approximately 28 hectares of land at Girlsta. The planting of native trees and shrubs will also take place at appropriate locations.

Grant Smith, SSEN Transmission’s lead project manager for the Kergord-Gremista connection, said: “Once this link is complete, it will form the crucial land connection between the Shetland HVDC subsea Link to the GB mainland and the local Shetland grid supply point at Gremista, connecting Shetland to the GB energy system for the first time.

“This will enable the supply of clean power to homes and businesses, even at times when local generation on Shetland’s electricity distribution network does not meet demand.

“We will work to ensure our impact on the environment is carefully minimised at every opportunity, with robust mitigation measures in place to ensure we do everything we can to limit our impact wherever possible.

“We look forward to beginning the delivery phase of the project, and every effort to minimise any disruption during construction will be made. As a stakeholder-led business we’ll continue to work closely with the local community and wider stakeholders to keep them updated as this project advances.”

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