Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Limited (SHETL), a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), has published its Report on Consultations together with Indicative Proposed routes for the proposed electricity transmission connection between the Western Isles and the north west of Scotland.
Over the past four years the proposed Western Isles Connection has been the subject of a series of consultations to enable SHETL to obtain the views on the proposed project from the various statutory consultees, including affected landowners and occupiers and other relevant interested parties.
During these consultations, SHETL received and analysed nearly 300 responses, which provided over 800 different comments. No significant new alternative routes were proposed and there was no preference noted for any of the alternative routes also illustrated within the document.
Following the extensive analysis of the responses to the most recent Consultation issued in December 2006, and some additional survey works, SHETL has developed Indicative Proposed Routes (IPR) for the various elements of the transmission infrastructure associated with the Western Isles Connection. The key points of which are:
• Confirmation that the preference expressed within the Consultation Document for the subsea route remains unchanged. The route was used as the centre line for a seabed survey last year. Following this survey, an IPR has been selected.
• The IPR for the mainland section remains an underground cable between Little Loch Broom and Beauly Substation. The route has been adjusted in a number of areas and has now been subject to an environmental assessment.
• The indicative proposed location for the mainland converter station remains alongside the existing Beauly Substation.
• The indicative proposed location for the converter station on the Isle of Lewis remains near Grabhair although it has been moved further away from the public road.
Extensive comments were received on various aspects of the Lewis infrastructure. Most notably, a strong preference was stated for a subsea connection between Grabhair and Stornoway as far as possible. A detailed seabed survey has been completed to allow selection of an IPR for a subsea connection. In addition, two land-based IPRs have been selected. Over the next year, it is intended to complete an environmental impact assessment on the three routes. At the end of the assessment, a decision will be taken on which route to take forward. At this stage, it is not clear whether one circuit or two circuits will be required to link between Grabhair and Stornoway.
The proposed Western Isles Connection will proceed in two distinct sections. As stated above, the Lewis Infrastructure will be subject to further environmental surveys and no decision will be taken until autumn 2009. It is intended that the main interconnector, between Grabhair on Lewis and Beauly, will be the subject of applications for consent later this year.
Adam Bruce, Head of Sustainable Development at SSE, said: "Almost 300 organisations and individuals have participated in the voluntary public consultation process that we have undertaken over the past four years. We believe that our proposal shows that we have taken account of all views and comments, including, where possible, the issue of undergrounding.
"Following extensive environmental and technical studies, we are confident that the correct decisions have been made and this will be reflected when the time comes to obtain the relevant consents."
The Report on Consultation and the Indicative Proposed Route (IPR) maps are available to be viewed on www.scottish-southern.co.uk by following the links to the Media Centre and then the Projects section.