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SSEN to begin latest consultation events for Orkney transmission reinforcement

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is hosting a further round of consultation events as it continues to take forward its proposed transmission connection from Orkney to the Scottish mainland.

On Wednesday 11 July, SSEN is hosting a drop-in consultation event from 3pm to 7pm at The Firth Community Centre at Finstown. 

With the consultation event, an update on the design, layout and visualisation of SSEN’s proposed substation at Finstown will be given.

SSEN has said its proposed substation design is based on a range of technical and environmental factors and seeks, where possible, to minimise the visual impact through detailed design and mitigation. 

However, the plans have attracted some criticism, with the Orkney Heritage Society having stated in the press their concern and opposition over some aspects.

SSEN has said further refinement of the proposal will take place after the consultation period in advance of the final stage of public consultation in the autumn, when SSEN intends to present its final detailed design in advance of submitting formal planning applications later this year.

Peter Jordan, project manager for the substation element of the transmission reinforcement project, said: “Engagement with the local community and other key stakeholders has already been instrumental in the development of the project to date, with local feedback already influencing key aspects of the project such as our decision not to use steel lattice towers.

“We recognise that a number of concerns have been raised locally about the visual impact of the substation and whilst there will inevitably be an impact due to the sheer scale of infrastructure required, we are committed to minimise the impact as far as possible through detailed design, landscape siting and post installation mitigation, such as screening through native planting.

“We would encourage all stakeholders with an interest the proposed substation at Finstown to come along to our consultation event on Wednesday to find out more about our proposed design and provide their feedback which will be carefully considered during the final detailed design stage.”

SSEN is also holding a round of consultation events as part of the development of its proposed Alternative Approach trial, aimed at unlocking renewable energy in the county. The trial would see capacity allocated on a ready to connect basis, whereby those developers who are ready to commit to their projects would be allocated capacity. The latest round of Alternative Approach consultation is seeking views on:

Implementing a “ready to connect” process which will allow allocation of capacity to those developers who are ready following the submission of their informative delivery plans.

Adjusting financial securities faced by renewable developers for a period to align with the level of securities experienced by projects on the mainland. This will help reduce the initial barrier of connection for a defined period of time.

Two events are planned at the St Magnus Centre in Kirkwall, from 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday July 11; then from 10am to 12pm on Thursday July 12; with a further event at the Doubletree by Hilton, Glasgow Central, from 10.30am to 12.30noon on Friday July 13; and finally, a webinar will take place on Tuesday July 17 from 10am to 12pm.

Registration is required for the Alternative Approach consultations via the following link: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/news-views/articles/2018/6/solving-orkney-s-catch-22/

Commenting on the Alternative Approach consultation events, Lauren Milligan, commercial policy manager, said: “As a customer-driven initiative, stakeholder engagement has shaped the Alternative Approach proposal to date.

“We want to ensure that we develop a solution that not only works for network companies but also the wider industry and other connection customers and would therefore encourage anyone with an interest in our proposed Alternative Approach trial to register for one of our consultation events.”

The final stage of consultation is planned to take place in Autumn on the various components of the transmission reinforcement project in advance of submitting planning applications to the relevant planning authorities, the Scottish Government, Marine Scotland and Orkney Islands Council.

The progression of the project is subject to all necessary planning consents and securing regulatory approval from industry regulator Ofgem, with the Alternative Approach trial also subject to regulatory approval.

For more information on the proposed Orkney transmission reinforcement, including links to both consultation documents, click here.

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