Calls for subsea cable work to start

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Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Lesley Laird, has called on the UK government to bring forward plans to build the proposed Western Isles Radial Connector, commonly referred to as the interconnector.

The Conservative Party manifesto committed the party to building the interconnector, which would export wind farm generated electricity from the Western Isles to mainland Scotland, but without a specific date.

Ms Laird has argued that, given there is widespread agreement on the benefits of the proposal, the Conservative government should begin the construction process immediately.

Laird also believes the Contract for Difference regime, which subsidises renewable energy production, should have a third category for ‘island wind’. This would allow energy producers on the islands to effectively compete with those on the mainland.

The proposal for an interconnector would also bring significant economic benefits to the Western Isles.

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Lesley Laird, said: “On my visit to the Western Isles earlier this month, I heard first-hand the benefits this interconnector could bring to the community.

“It would bring huge economic and environmental benefits to the people of the Western Isles, with independent experts estimating it would add over £400 million to the local economy.

“When Jeremy Corbyn visited the island last month, he announced that Labour would rural-proof all policies, ensuring that no community is left behind under a Labour government.

“It is vital that the Tories stick to their manifesto commitment, and they must begin construction of the interconnector as soon as possible.”

Scottish Labour’s rural affairs spokesperson, Rhoda Grant said: “As anybody living on the Western Isles is aware, the interconnector has long been discussed but repeatedly failed to materialise.

“The Western Isles has enormous potential for renewable energy production, particularly with wind power. But in order to achieve its full potential, the island must have an interconnector with the mainland.

“The Tories committed in the manifesto to funding its construction, so now must begin that process. Otherwise, local people will be rightly sceptical about the project ever beginning.”