SSE station plan needs revised

Stornoway Historical Society have called for a “full-scale cultural heritage appraisal” of a site earmarked by Scottish and Southern Energy for a converter station related to the proposed interconnector with the mainland.
The historical society has called for a relocation closer to the Arnish deep water port.The historical society has called for a relocation closer to the Arnish deep water port.
The historical society has called for a relocation closer to the Arnish deep water port.

The Society is concerned that “little or no trace will remain” of the Lewis Chemical Works site. This relates to an industrial development instigated by the landlord, Sir James Matheson, in the mid-19th century.

In a statement, the society said: “The structure is planned to occupy a site named Creed North, located on the north side of the River Creed, immediately behind the properties opposite the Creed Lodge on the Harris Road.

“According to the SSEN flier, this is the selected site and no longer figures officially in the consultation. The ground area required for the structure is approximately 93,000 square metres, which is roughly equivalent to three times the area of the Western Isles Hospital site”.

The Society say that Historic Environment Scotland will be consulted at some point in the application process and “call for a full-scale cultural heritage appraisal of the site”. They add that there is plenty room on a separate site on Arnish between the deep water port and Arnish Point.

Their statement continues: “Arnish had been previously considered as an option but had been de-selected mainly because of the amount of rock-blasting required in order to achieve a level base for the construction.” The Society encourages members and others to visit an SSEN drop-in consultation to be held next Wednesday in the Caberfeidh Hotel.

Matheson bought Lewis in 1844 after making his fortune as an opium trader in China. He invested £33,000 in an industrial process to turn peat into paraffin at the Chemical Works.

The venture lasted from 1857 to 1874 and some traces of the structures and tram lines remain, as well as a memorial stone.

A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said: “Throughout the development of our site selection process for the Western Isles Convertor and Substation site we have sought to balance the needs of all stakeholders alongside meeting the requirements of all relevant planning and environmental policies and the regulatory and legal frameworks under which we must operate.

“Following feedback from the local community, we actively explored and assessed an alternative option which after detailed evaluation, was ruled out due to a variety of technical and environmental reasons challenging for the consenting process, in particular, the significantly challenging ground conditions, suitability for connections and the site’s proximity to protected species. As a result, we have further considered what can be done to reduce local impacts of the selected site by micro siting and reorientating the site layout and we remain committed to continue working with the local community to further minimise and mitigate impacts as this project develops. Our next steps are to further develop and refine the site moving through the consenting process with further formal consultation events planned in the late spring 2024.

“While construction of the project is not expected to begin until 2026, a detailed construction management plan will be in place to minimise and mitigate our impacts wherever we can, including those related to noise and construction traffic.

“We would like to thank everyone who has shared their feedback with us so far and look forward to continued constructive engagement with the local community and wider stakeholders to help inform the ongoing development of this project.”