MEP steps into inter-connector row

Alyn Smith, Scottish Member of the European Parliament, says he has today (Thursday) taken steps to secure the future of the Western Isles inter-connector project.

With the row over the all important mainland grid connection heating up, Mr Smith, speaking from Brussels, commented: “For this project [the inter-connector] to fall through at this stage is bad news for the Isles, bad news for renewables, bad news for Scotland and the EU and, indeed, bad news for SSE. It only proves that the economics of energy transmission are simply not serving Scotland well.

“I have been trying to access EU cash for precisely this sort of grid investment, as wiring up the EU’s islands and waters will be a greater job than any one company or country can fund. While I’m hopeful that, long-term, we will indeed see much greater EU investment, we need it now if we are going to get real about kicking on our renewables revolution.”

The MEP has now written to the European Investment Bank to bring the inter-connector project to their attention, and to the European Commission.

“To allow a commercial decision, which from SSE’s perspective is valid enough, to subvert the overwhelming national interest in seeing this project happen would be a clear dereliction of duty, and the SNP will do all we can to turn up such funding as we can access,” said Mr Smith.

The Western Isles inter-connector scheme is intended to provide the infrastructure needed to allow wind-farms on the islands to provide power to the Scottish mainland. Energy projects which could provide nearly 500 megawatts of generating capacity are at various stages of planning within the Western Isles. These clearly represent significant progress towards Scotland’s environmental targets.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) this week confirmed that it has shelved its plans to build the inter-connector between the Western Isles and the mainland due to the high transmission charges set by National Grid.