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Planning application submitted for Finstown substation

The most recent artist’s impression of the proposed Finstown substation. (Picture: SSEN)

A planning application, for a proposed new substation to be built on the outskirts of Finstown, has been submitted to Orkney Islands Council, Scottish and Southern Energy Transmission (SSEN) has today confirmed.

The substation is part of the electricity provider’s wider plans for transmission reinforcement from Orkney to Dounreay, the goal of which it says is to support the growth of renewable electricity generators across Orkney looking to connect to the main transmission system.

SSEN has said due to its relatively central location on Orkney, the Finstown area was chosen as the best location for the substation as it will reduce the amount of associated infrastructure needed to connect the renewable energy projects currently in development and those likely to come through in the future.

Talking about what has been called a key milestone for the Orkney transmission reinforcement project, lead project manager, Keith Inglis, said: “The submission of our planning application for Finstown substation follows significant engagement and consultation with local stakeholders which has helped inform the substations final design.

“We believe we have worked hard to balance the visual impact of the substation against the various engineering, environmental and economic considerations that we have to factor into our project design.

“Whilst there are still a number of hurdles to overcome before we can provide the transmission infrastructure required to unlock Orkney’s renewables potential, this application is a critical milestone for the project and Orkney’s low carbon ambitions.”

Despite consultations events being held throughout the county by SSEN, which has led to various changes being made to the project, there remain some vocal opponents to SSEN’s project.

The Orkney Heritage Society, for example, has maintained that they are not being listened to by SSEN and are campaigning for further changes to be made to the plans.

Subject to regulatory approval of the scheme by Ofgem as well as the various statutory planning consents, SSEN Transmission has said it intends to start construction in spring 2020 with an energisation date of spring 2023.

In the coming weeks, further archaeological investigations will commence on-site to fully understand any archaeological features prior to the construction phase, which will also help inform whether any further action is required.

Initial investigations at the proposed substation site at Finstown have discovered the presence of archaeological features, which is not unexpected given Orkney’s significant archaeological history. In the event of any archaeological discoveries of interest, SSEN Transmission has said it is committed to ensuring these are fully documented, preserved if possible, with the findings shared with interested parties.

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