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MSPs in fight for interconnector           6/5/13

Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has taken up the delay with the proposed subsea energy cable from lewis to the mainland with Scotland's Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing.

The construction of island windfarms hinge on the interconnector being built to export their electricity output to southern markets.

But SSE which controls the national grid in the north of Scotland has failed to lodge the required business case with energy regulator Ofgem, riskign a three-year delay to large renewable projects in the islands.

Alasdair Allan said: "Clearly the islands have some of the biggest renewables resource anywhere in Europe and it is only fair that conditions exist for this resource to be made use of."

The MSP added: “I emphasised to Fergus Ewing that the community in the islands are anxious for further progress towards an interconnector.

"Many of the issues are of course still in the hands of the UK Government, and talks are currently underway between the Scottish and UK Governments on these.

“One of the key questions is the level of Renewables Obligations Certificates (ROCS) subsidy available to island-based renewables projects.”

Mr Allan added: "I made the case that the subsidy regime has to reflect the fact that costs for island-based renewables are to some extent more like those associated with offshore windfarms. This should be recognised in support available.

"Likewise, the transmission charges which island renewables projects face continue to be higher than mainland projects, and this needs to be addressed.

"I have written to Western Isles Council to seek to meet them around this issue to pursue these issues further together as talks near a conclusion.”

Council leader Angus Campbell said: “Clearly I am pleased that Alasdair is lending his weight to the Comhairle’s cause and has entered discussions with Energy Minister Fergus Ewing on the interconnector issue.

“The option of using the Rocs subsidy to bring costs for island renewables projects in line with mainland projects is one that has been around for some time and I hope that the minister will be in a position to announce good news for the islands very soon.

With the publication of the report into transmission charges due very soon there appears there may be real progress on realising the renewables potential of the islands – an issue which the Comhairle has been pursuing for some considerable time. ”