Leader of the Comhairle, Angus Campbell, has said that SHE Transmission and its parent company Scottish & Southern Energy have failed the Outer Hebrides and are no longer “fit for purpose”.
Cllr Campbell has suggested that the islands should “now seriously look at alternative transmission solutions for the Outer Hebrides”.
The Leader of Comhairle was speaking after the company announced a further delay for the proposed interconnector - the same day that the Scottish and UK Government published a report into renewables energy for Scottish Islands.
In a statement from the company, released yesterday, it was stated: “SHE Transmission welcomes the publication today of the Scottish Islands Renewable Report. The report highlights the challenge SHE Transmission faces in making a robust, economic case for funding the Scottish Island subsea links, including options for overcoming the considerable costs for renewables developers on the islands and achieving value for money for the consumer.”
But it added: “In the case of the Western Isles, SHE Transmission has spent over £5m developing options, consulting communities, applying for planning permission and engaging suppliers on the link which, at a cost of around £700m, is one of Scotland’s largest infrastructure projects.
“However, while SHE Transmission awaits a decision from the UK and Scottish Governments on how to overcome the costs faced by renewable developers on the Western Isles, the placing of the multi-million pound cable contract by July is no longer achievable. As a result it will not be possible to commission a link before 2017.”
Cllr Campbell said: “It is highly disappointing and hugely frustrating that on the back of a positive report from the Scottish and UK Governments about the prospects of renewable energy development in the Outer Hebrides, that SHE Transmission’s response is to announce that they will not be proceeding with the inter-connector in July.
“This negative approach has been a characteristic of SHE Transmission’s approach to the Outer Hebrides. Despite their excuses I think it is fair to say that SHE Transmission and their parent company Scottish & Southern Energy have totally failed the Outer Hebrides.”
He continued: “In my view the organisation is no longer fit for purpose and we have to now seriously look at alternative transmission solutions for the Outer Hebrides. I will be writing to both National Grid and OFGEM to explore options around National Grid taking over the link or for the link to be put out to open competition.
“If SHET Transmission are unable to deliver we need to engage with those who can.”
He added: “I will also be asking OFGEM to investigate whether there is a conflict of interest within SSE between their generation and transmission business. A case could be made that SSE’s generation and transmission business should be ‘unbundled’.”