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Island windfarms halted for four years           15/5/13

Large wind and wave farms planned for the Western Isles have been pushed back four years after present plans for a sub-sea interconnector were dropped.

Now it will be 2017 before the cable across the Minch will be commissioned.

Last week Hebrides News revealed that SHE Transmission - a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) - was likely to miss the July 1st deadline to proceed with the cable contract.

Today, SSE which operates the national gird in the north of Scotland confirmed that it was restarting the whole tender process.

A spokesperson said: “SHE Transmission has spent over £5 million developing options, consulting communities, applying for planning permission and engaging suppliers on the link which, at a cost of around £700 million, 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.”

She added: “In the meantime, SHE Transmission is continuing to assess the proposed works, in particular the construction programme and project costs, along with engaging with the views of stakeholders including the supply chain, so that a new timetable can be drawn up.”

The body said it faced challenges 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.”

It wants governments to come up with a solution “which would allow it to submit a sound, economic case to (energy regulator) Ofgem to permit the construction of the island links.”

The spokesperson added: “As major transmission infrastructure is ultimately paid for by electricity consumers across Great Britain, SHE Transmission is required to ensure that there is a clear economic case for investment so that consumers are protected from undue costs arising from infrastructure for which there is insufficient requirement.”

David Gardner, Director of Transmission, said:  “The issue of providing a link to the Western Isles has been ongoing for nine years.  This demonstrates the significance of the issues that need to be addressed.  

“Nevertheless, if these issues can be overcome, with changes to the existing support framework, we stand ready to re-engage the supply chain and progress the link through the regulatory approval process.”