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Energy / Site work stood down as safety precaution after peat slide

VIDEO footage has emerged of a peat slide in an area where work was being undertaken on the Kergord to Gremista electricity connection project.

The incident happened in an area between Upper Kergord and Sandwater on Tuesday afternoon (7 May), on land where it appears a road/track was being constructed.

Drone footage, taken by Gary Buchan, can also be seen below of the site after the landslide.

SSEN said the incident was not associated with the Viking Energy wind farm.

A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said while there were no injuries, work in the area has temporarily been stood down.

They said: “On Tuesday afternoon our site team reported a peat slip in an area of hillside between Upper Kergord and the B9075, where work on our Kergord to Gremista Connection Project is taking place.

“All site teams are safe and there were no injuries, however as a safety precaution all site work has been stood down and the area secured until it has been fully assessed and made safe.

“A full assessment of the area will take place to understand the extent of any damage to the hillside.”

There is no risk to any users of the B9075 and the public road remains open as normal.

The ongoing Kergord to Gremista connection project involves the installation of new overhead lines and underground cabling ahead of Shetland being linked to the national grid by subsea cable.

Frank Hay, chairman of campaign group Sustainable Shetland, said it was not the first instance of this type associated with the ongoing work in the Central Mainland, with a landslide for example taking place in 2022.

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“In spite of assurances that care for the environment is paramount it is very disappointing to see this happening,” he said.

“They were actually very fortunate that machinery and workers were not caught up in this. It is perhaps time that SSE revised its working practices on deep peat.”

The incident comes after the distribution arm of SSEN confirmed that a recent heather fire in Girlsta was caused by cable testing it was undertaking as part of network improvement work.

Four appliances sent to Girlsta heather fire

A spokesperson for SSEN Distribution said: “Our operational and safety teams began work immediately on investigating the cause of the fire, with a view to implementing measures to ensure that a similar situation does not occur again in the future.

“And as an extra measure, all planned cable testing on this particular project has been temporarily ceased during our ongoing investigations.”

Councillor Moraig Lyall, chair of the SIC’s environment and transport committee, said: “It’s not proving to be a good week for SSEN Transmission with this landslip coming on the back of the heath fire at Girlsta Loch a few days ago.

“Members of the local community are rightly concerned and, for the safety of the workforce as well as the general public, we need to understand why this occurred, particularly when it didn’t happen after heavy rain which is often the trigger for peat slides.

“SSEN need to ensure that all the contractors they have operating here are aware of the unique nature of the environment in which they are working and are suitably prepared for that.

“Part of the planning conditions of these permitted developments is that the landscape will be reinstated to its pre construction state and we need to ensure that SSEN adhere to that requirement.”

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