The new, compact Stornoway Gazette is much more convenient because, with the warm weather approaching, it will make a fantastic fly-swatter. Look out, Daddy Long Legs.
No, no, no. I’m kidding. Honestly, I love it. The Two-Minute Silence suddenly became the Twenty-Minute Waow this week.
As a blazing introduction to the future of Western Isles journalism, the front page yarn was just OK. A scandalous failure by agencies has left a young worker unable to afford a roof over her head. The story was weakened because the young lady was neither named nor photographed – not the paper’s fault – so the inevitably dry text and predictable quotes from pontificating politicians and uncaring pen-pushers made it impersonal and dry.
As the poor young lady was not named, the Gazette should follow up with a sound kicking for the dreadful attitude of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar which tried to wash its hand of the case by claiming it did not comment on individual cases. Ahem, no individuals were mentioned so there was absolutely no reason for them not to speak and explain what they were doing – or, more probably, not doing. Appalling. We all expect a lot more from the comhairle on this in the next issue.
News of the biggest wave farm in the world to be built off Borve came on Wednesday morning, when the prototype compact was undoubtedly deep in the machine and about to pop out the other end. Shame. Still, there’s always next week.
However, rather than look at just the choice of stories, let me focus on the new look. If you are not interested in newspaper design, you may find these next comments a bit technical so go and make a cup of tea and come back before I reach the last paragraph.
The general layout (which I must remember not to claim to be a virtual carbon copy of the similarly-improved Press and Journal, for which I toil) now falls in properly with the good practice of putting a page’s lead story with a more-prominent headline well above the fold and designing the rest around it. That has not always been the case at the Gazette but it does make for a less-taxing experience for the reader.
Now, headlines. I love them. As one who got a small measure of praise for devising a few in my time on a London paper, I need them to draw me in. A dull impenetrable headline can ruin the chances of stories being properly read. It is absolutely an art form – not only to form a succinct line that summarises well – but also to re-jig it to fit snugly into a wee, white hole.
As people who have worked with me on newspapers both here and in the smoke know, I detest unbalanced headlines with loads of white space after the last word. Just shoddy and unprofessional. Those who do watch out for the dreaded inches of white nothingness make their papers look good – like the West Highland Free Press. Thankfully, the new Gazette seems to have tightened up on its previous slapdash approach with the exception of page 16 - but there were perfectly understandable reasons for that. Well done.
Many local newspapers, and even the online Daily Mail, use financial stringency as a dodgy excuse when they haven’t paid enough attention to picture captions, those small descriptions under each photo. Error-free captions enhance that cosy feeling of comfort and trust in the product. Just small errors, like missing a letter or failing to use the appropriate case, can shake that trust. Readers subconsciously think if they get that wrong, what else is awry? I spotted several very annoying errors in the compact captions, like: “shawbost” not Shawbost, “Mens” Only barbers, “is presents her certificate”, etc, etc. Hmm, definitely some work still to do there.
The general wider use of photos and picture bylines is an improvement and it was good to put a face to columnist Peter O’Donnell at last. It was also disconcerting because I thought he was someone else entirely and the guy I berated on Church Street recently about some comments made about a certain TV programme is now owed an apology. I wondered why he kept saying his name was Dave. Oops.
While on the subject of photos, I loved the photo on page 9 of the Shadow Scottish Secretary – deep in shadow. Actually, I hated it and it shouldn’t have been used. Frankly, I would have preferred to see a deer licking its own bottom. Oh look, there’s one of them on page 24. Is it just me or …?
These are comparatively small niggles. Though I didn’t get to the compact’s launch party, because I was suffering from cold flushes, I would have given the revamp the thumbs-up and would have personally congratulated the team. I do that now, heartily. I would probably have added that we all need the editorial box to be more punchy. It’s often the one chance for editors of local papers to make it clear they are capable of forming their own opinions rather than merely reporting other people’s.
When the Gazette begins to stand up for islanders, it will not just survive but thrive. For the record, campaigning for the reintroduction of full Road Equivalent Tariff would not be party political bias when it affects everyone – and most of the SNP councillors secretly support it anyway. They are just too lily-livered to come out and say so because they do not want to upset the great elected representatives. Go, girl.
At least one positive pro-RET story each week with two elections looming and two hats on two shoogly pegs. Think about it. It would work well and the nationalist government would have to cave in or risk a mere handful of fanatics’ votes. The Gazette would rightfully take the glory and be catapulted into Scottish history as a paper that cares and gets things done. Either that, or carry on as before until the inevitable happens.
Matters of editorial backbone aside, there is a most definite feel of higher quality about the new Cas Chait. I’m loving it. The challenge now is to maintain that quality – and to not use contributed material which may be free but lowers the now-elevated tone. I curse the day someone dreamt up people standing in a row holding large cheques. No offence, Mr D R Macdonald of Bethesda. I suspect you’re pretty fed up of it too but you’re too much of a gentleman to admit it.
However - and this is very serious - I must criticise the most serious error in the new Gazette. I feel sure the editor will want to learn from the dire mistake she made on page 30. We must never again be subjected to the sight of so many distressingly-ugly Rudhachs together on the one page.
David Beckham did it early. Alex Ferguson did it late. And Bruce Forsyth still hasn’t done it despite it being very obvious that he should have jacked it in decades ago. It depends on your job, of course, but exactly when to retire is a decision that vexes many people who think they have still got what it takes to do what they do. Or not.
And there is nothing like a big burstday to make you have a good long think about your future – and, of course, what a pig’s ear you’ve made of your past and how you would do everything so very differently if you got your chance all over again.
So I would like to wish a very happy birthday to everyone who is this week celebrating the many big anniversaries they have celebrated since their own birth. Oh, and a special shout-out to Norman Angus Macdonald from Great Bernera.
Some call him Puss. Some call him Big Norman. Others have been heard to come up with even saltier references to the battling Berneranian who has lit up God’s own wee island with his colourful bids to set up two wind turbines to generate enough money for him to invest in some reliable agricultural equipment.
“People assume I’m wanting to put up wind turbines to make a fortune. All I want is a decent tractor out of it,” he told me recently. “Potatoes, turnips, carrots. I like them and I want to grow them. Is that too much to ask?”
Oh well, if you put it that way.
Sadly though, former fisherman Tormod has had to contend with various planning officials, government pen-pushers and conservation bodies who, he believes, have been working round the clock to snooker his turbine and tractor plan.
The bane of his life now are buffer zones, which nobody here had ever heard of before, but which Norman Angus has been told exist around all ancient monuments.
So anyone trying to put up an erection that can be seen from the other side of Loch Roag such as, for example, a wind turbine, within five kilometres of such a monument like, for example, the Callanish Stones will have all those busybodies spouting all kinds of rules and regulations to block it.
Hence the big fellow’s grumpiness of late. His turbines, which would have stood proudly on the hill at Kirkibost across from Earshader and Crulivig, would have been about four kilometres off the stones – so they have had the kibosh put on them.
The chances of a gleaming Massey Ferguson any time soon have been cruelly dashed. He was fizzing when he heard the news. He is not so grumpy now though. No, he is in absolutely splendid form. Yesterday, he hit the Big 6 O.
So will he now slowly withdraw from his battle against the allegedly over-zealous officials who, he is convinced, are now set to blight our beloved islands with even more made-up rules and regs to harass local people and justify their own jobs?
Not on your nelly. Realising that much else needs to be done in the war against red tape, Tormod Mór has decided to hone and tone his tried and trusted weapon. Himself.
He has embarked on a health kick and celebrated his big day by taking the first step – quitting the fags. Never thought I’d see the day. Big Norman has been giving out awful, noxious fumes for nigh on 50 years. In fact, it’s a lot longer if you consider the non-tobacco variety.
But why is he getting fit at this particular milestone? It’s all because he wants to extend his lifespan as he thinks it may take a bit longer than he initially thought to undo the damage being done by planners and government officials putting buffer zones round our ancient monuments.
He wants to make it to the age of 80? Nope.
Norman Angus has figured out that being from big, strong and healthy people, he would probably make it to 80 even without giving up the filter tips. Unless he has an accident, gets in the way of a bolt of lightning from the heavens or upsets his beloved Maggie again, I suppose there is a fair chance he could make the four score.
However, he is worried that the battles to come may take more than 20 years and if he does get a new tractor meanwhile, it could turn out to be so reliable that it could keep ploughing furrows well beyond his 80th birthday. It really would be such a shame to waste the best years of a fine tractor by popping his clogs. Well, obviously.
So now he wants to aim for the century. The Big One O O. You know what, I have never seen him so determined. Well, not since they used the rules about the buffer zones round old monuments to knock back his application.
If this health kick pays off, he could become so ancient that they’ll need to put a buffer zone round Big Norman himself.
The first drag race of 2013 by Lewis Car Club will be on Saturday, June 1 at Stornoway Airport.
A contingent of mainland cars is expected from around the north of Scotland to take on the local petrolheads.
Racing starts at 7pm with the usual entry point at Parkend so spectators should get there in plenty of time to grab a good spot to watch the action.
Anyone who would like to take part can get entry forms and club membership forms from the Autoparts shop in Island Road, Stornoway, or from the club website at www.lewiscarclub.com. Entries accepted until May 29 but it would be better to get in early as there is a maximum number of cars that can take part.
Lewis Car Club said it was delighted so many people were prepared to travel to the island to take part while also helping to raise funds for local charities. Previous club events at the airport have raised £2,790 with the proceeds handed over to the six charities nominated by HIAL airport manager Duncan Smith.
As a result, the Leanne Fund, Alzheimers Western Isles, Bethesda, Hebridean Men’s Cancer Support, Western Isles Kidney Patients’ Association and the National Autistic Society for Scotland have all received cheques for £465.
When added to the funds previously handed over to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) from the special drag race held last year in memory of club member Andrew Macleod, a seaman who died suddenly in Hong Kong in October 2011, it brings the amount raised by the club for good causes in the past two years to an impressive total of £4,525.
Wave energy developer Aquamarine Power has got full consent from the Scottish Government for a 40MW wave farm off the north-west coast of Lewis – the world’s largest fully-permitted ocean energy site.
The announcement was made by the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen.
The green light from the government and its regulator Marine Scotland, along with onshore planning which was approved last September, means the Edinburgh firm, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Lewis Wave Power Limited, will be able to begin installing their near-shore Oyster wave energy machines at the site in the next few years – once the necessary grid infrastructure has been put in place.
It will ultimately see the deployment of between 40 and 50 Oyster devices along the coast at Lag na Greine, near to Fivepenny Borve, in one of the best wave energy locations in Europe. Once complete, the farm will have the capacity to power nearly 30,000 homes.
Last year Western Isles Council approved planning for the onshore hydroelectric power plant which will be connected to the Oyster wave energy farm.
Aquamarine Power is currently testing its second full-scale wave machine, known as the Oyster 800, at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, and is now producing electrical power to the grid.
“This is a significant milestone for our company,” says Aquamarine Power Chief Executive Officer Martin McAdam. “The goal of our industry is to become commercial, and to do this we need two things – reliable technologies and a route to market. Our engineers are currently working hard on getting the technology right and we now have a site where we can install our first small farm, with a larger-scale commercial build out in the years ahead.
“We have worked in close consultation with the people and businesses of Lewis in the development of our proposals and would like to express our gratitude for their ongoing support. We were delighted with the turnout at the series of public exhibitions we held on Lewis last March, and we also commend government regulator Marine Scotland and the Western Isles Council for their positive approach.
“We believe wave energy presents an important opportunity for the Isle of Lewis. Our development could provide significant economic benefit to the local community. In Orkney, for example, we have spent over £5 million in the local economy during the installation of the first two Oyster devices and have worked with over 40 local companies as part of our commitment to sourcing much of the services and expertise we require locally.”
Making the announcement, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP said: “I am delighted to announce that Scottish Ministers have granted a Licence to Aquamarine Power to develop the largest commercial wave array in the world. Aquamarine Power is an exciting, dynamic Scottish company that is increasingly expanding its renewable business.
“The development of up to 50 Oyster wave devices off the North West coast of Lewis, when operational, will have the power to produce 40MW of renewable electricity.
“This is another significant milestone for Scotland’s wave sector. With 10 per cent of Europe’s wave power potential, and 25 per cent of its offshore wind and tidal power potential, the opportunities for Scotland are enormous.”
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables, said: “This is a fantastic milestone for the Scottish renewables industry and this project will make a significant contribution to our energy mix once it begins generating.
“It’s further proof that we have become home to a world leading marine energy industry that is delivering jobs and investment to communities across Scotland. “However, we can’t forget that this is the kind of prize that could be lost unless costs for projects to connect to the grid on the islands are set at a competitive level.”
Agnes Rennie, Chair of local landowner Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust), said: “It is very encouraging to see the development at Lag na Greine reaching this important objective, highlighting the abundant wave resource in north-west Lewis. The Urras and the community look forward to working with the company through the next stages of the development towards installation of the Oyster array.”
Angus Campbell, Leader, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “This is excellent news for the Outer Hebrides and demonstrates the growing appetite of major energy companies to locate in Europe’s area of best marine resource, here in the islands. Our Atlantic coast represents one of the best wave energy resources in Europe and there is no doubt that the area can become a global player as nascent wave energy technology comes to market, benefitting carbon reduction targets and regenerating the local economy. Aquamarine Power’s scheme is an important first step in this process and we have been impressed by their professionalism as they developed their proposals in close collaboration with the local community.
“Aquamarine Power’s technology is, literally, a world leader and we will continue to work with Aquamarine Power and other developers to make West of Hebrides the location of choice for what is sure to become one of the world’s most important industries. It is vital that developing technology like that of Aquamarine Power is retained in Scotland but, for that, we need to extend our electricity grid into the areas of best resource. Aquamarine Power’s announcement adds further weight to the call for our transmission owner, SSE, to move quickly on construction of this link for which there is so much consented demand.”
Maria McCaffery Chief Executive of RenewableUK, said: “This is a big step forward for the marine energy sector in the UK and especially in the Scottish Islands, which has such a first-rate marine energy resource.
“These are the type of developments that we hope to see more of in the coming months and years to herald the opportunity that marine energy represents. Just last week we were told by a Government report that more needed to be done for the Scottish Islands to reap the benefits generated by marine energy projects. Today’s announcement shows the interest industry has in the area, and we hope it will provide a spur to finding a solution, so that we can see further development of this excellent resource. ”
Lang Banks, Director of WWF Scotland, said: “This announcement is a fantastic boost for Scotland’s marine renewables sector and will put Lewis firmly on the world map when it comes to wave energy. However, if Scotland is to rule the waves when it comes to marine renewables then it’s vital we quickly resolve the issues of grid connection and transmission costs to the Scottish islands.
“Alongside energy saving measures, wave power and other renewables have a critical role to play in helping Scotland reduce climate emissions, create jobs and generate export opportunities. With careful planning we can harness the waves and tides while safeguarding the nation’s tremendous marine environment.”
I very much welcome to Lewis the production crew filming the TV version of the ‘ Katie Morag ‘ children’s story books set on Struay island,and would also hope the Hebridean summer weather is kinder to their outdoor location filming than it was recently : Katie Morag meets the May snowman !
With the filming taking place in our present climate of rampant political correctness and increasingly strict equality legislation affecting all areas of our lives,I was rather surprised at the leeway afforded the film producers.in comparison to other professions.in selecting those they wish to employ.Though this TV project could offer a prime example of the farcical and litigation-prone consequences should equality legislation be taken to its ultimate conclusion which is the stated aim of many overly idealistic but rather deluded campaigners
It was widely understood from the job description that the’ Katie Morag ‘role would be awarded to a fair-skinned,red-headed young lady But surely stipulating a skin colour as a condition of employment would be grounds for discriminatory proceedings on behalf of equally talented aspiring young Asian or Afro-Caribbean thespians.
Similarly biased restrictions applied to the role.of the feisty red-head’s parents It goes without saying that applicants of African origin would be excluded from this job vacancy so as to avoid awkward questions about adult relationships aimed at distracted mums and dads by their Katie Morag viewing children.
Yet more discrimination would follow when it became apparent that the minimum qualification for filling the joint parental roles would require that the two successful applicants were of different genders.We now have a clear case of discrimination twice over, both on the grounds of race and portrayal of same-sex relationships which, even on Struay island, must be treated in similar manner to heterosexual relationships
Any insinuation of discrimination would be vehemently denied,and greeted with howls of protest from the artistic professions and their supporters. They would defend the film producers actions as being non-discriminatory by pointing out they were merely following the script in selecting suitable applicants for roles already defined and transcribed in book-form.
And that indeed would seem be a watertight alibi;a very persuasive defence difficult to find fault with or challenge. It would now appear apologies are in order from your corrected and chastened letter writer.
And indeed I am ready and willing to apologise, but only when the aforementioned protesters offer a reciprocating apology to church ministers/priests and their congregations who they may have previously accused of homophobic discrimination for refusing to recognise the validity of same-sex marriages. Further apologise are due to B&B owners who were similarly labelled for declining same-sex couples shared overnight accommodation in their homes
The reciprocating apology is necessary because they too were simply following the script of a book written by a much more authoritative figure than a children’s novelist. I refer of course to the Bible which clearly states that in God’s (father of Jesus) sight the only acceptable parental/sexual relationships are between a man and a woman. Would any believer or non-believer care to contest that assertion ?
While we wait with baited breath for any such apologies to materialise,I return to the ‘Katie Morag TV programme to surmise that in addition to the human residents in the young girl’s household there would also be ‘ acting’ roles for the family pets.With this in mind, I would like to volunteer my photogenic,attention-seeking female tabby cat.
Though I fear it could be a very disappointing audition for my stage-struck cat and her owner,should the TV casting team extend their human selection process into the animal kingdom. It’s highly probable the film producers have already decided that only pure white tomcats will be considered for the role of Katie Morag’s feline companions.
If this is indeed the case,it should be a matter of grave concern for the equality gospel preachers and the secular fundamentalists who affirm the pussycat’s noble status as their older but less sophisticated animal cousin. Miaow !
Iain M Macdonald
PS : I first submitted the above letter to my usual means of communication,Hebrides News. But it was rejected for publication, as were my two previous letters on the diverse subjects of predestination and the morality of taxpayer-funded handouts to Whisky/cigarette producers.
I had intended to ask the Heb News editor how he would define habitual discrimination against another person, but I wouldn’t wish to add to his troubles at this particular time. So instead I’ll offer him my wholehearted support for upholding, in the face of threats and intimidation,the right to free speech of his more favoured letter writers -
I M M, Miavaig
Sainsbury’s admit ‘mislabelling’ Scottish salmon
By ALISTAIR MUNRO
Published on 20/05/2013
SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s has admitted “an error” over the mislabelling of farmed Scottish salmon.
They made the confession after the Salmon and Trout Association (STA) filed a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards against the chain’s “erroneous claims” concerning the geographic origin of the fish.
The STA, which campaigns to protect wild fish stocks, claimed Sainsbury’s had misled the public on farmed salmon sold under its premium Taste The Difference brand.
Fish advertised as being from “fast-flowing seawater locations off the isles of Skye, Lewis and Uist”, were instead from Loch Fyne, in Argyll on the Scottish mainland.
This, the STA claims, is from “less fast-flowing waters” more prone to diseases such as sea lice.
A spokesman for the supermarket admitted: “Unfortunately, there has been an error in the information on the packaging of some our Taste the Difference salmon products in recent months.
“We are now resolving this and sincerely apologise to customers, who can be reassured that there has been no impact on our industry-leading sourcing standards.”
She added: “We are very proud of our record on responsible sourcing of fish.
“Sainsbury’s is the country’s largest retailer of RSPCA Freedom Food Salmon and all our Scottish Salmon is farmed to a number of independent standards.”
Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the STA Aquaculture Campaign, welcomed the admission by Sainsbury’s, and invited supermarket bosses to now “enter into a discussion about sourcing standards of farmed salmon”.
He said: “The STA’s complaint shows that it is time for the supermarkets to take responsibility for what they are selling and how they market it.
“This complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards is about Sainsbury’s and the claims made on its packaging and on its website.
“Quite apart from issues of identifying exactly where its farmed salmon comes from, the STA believes Sainsbury’s must substantiate its ‘responsible sourcing’ assertions with hard facts about named farms and not just general assurances.
“Without this, discerning consumers may not have confidence in what they are being asked to buy.”
He said: “It is good that they have obviously spotted an error in the geographic location of the fish farms.
“All the producers and supermarkets put a premium on salmon sourced from the Hebrides.
“These were marketed as being from fast-flowing seawaters off Skye, Lewis and Uist. But they were stamped as being from Loch Fyne, which has a reputation for sea lice.
“The problem with Loch Fyne is it is a narrow sea loch, and wild salmon and trout have a problem getting past these farms, which are prone to sea lice.”
He claimed sea-lice numbers on farmed fish in excess of industry thresholds, benthic pollution with sea-lice treatment chemicals in excess of Environmental Quality Standards, escapes of farmed fish, unsatisfactory organic pollution of the sea-bed with uneaten food and faeces and farmed salmonid diseases have all been recorded in Loch Fyne.
Mr Linley-Adams added: “Sainsbury’s are not alone in failing to come clean about their Scottish farmed salmon products.
“Claims by other supermarkets of salmon being ‘responsibly farmed’ or ‘responsibly sourced’ are vague and inadequate.
“The supermarkets clearly know there is an issue here – after all, we don’t see ‘responsibly farmed’ sweetcorn on tinned tomatoes on the supermarket shelves, do we?”
Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA Scotland, said: “Supermarkets have a duty to be honest and transparent about the food they sell.
“Farmed salmon, grown in open-net marine cages, can come at a heavy environmental cost, not least in its impact on wild salmon and sea trout.
“We do not need ‘greenwash’ or vagueness here. We need hard data against which to judge these farms.
“For example, we believe that Sainsbury’s should now require all the farms from which it sources its farmed salmon – as a condition of supplying salmon to Sainsbury’s – to publish weekly farm-specific sea-lice parasite counts against which claims made by the fish-farmers can be properly assessed.”
The STA was established in 1903 to address the damage done to rivers by the polluting effects of the Industrial Revolution.
It has worked to protect fisheries, fish stocks and the wider aquatic environment on behalf of game angling and fisheries.
An SNP MSP has gone to the top of the BBC in his bid to get the BBC Scotland series ‘Hebrides Islands on the Edge’ to be broadcast across the UK.
Dave Thompson, who represents Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, wrote directly to director general Tony Hall saying: “I represent some of these beautiful Hebridean Islands and I am aware of how difficult life has been for hoteliers, bed and breakfast and other tourist related businesses over the last few years.
“This programme shows clearly why people across the UK and hopefully eventually across the globe should come and visit this magical area.
“I hope that the BBC will broadcast this excellent programme across the whole of the UK as early as possible, and ideally in time to have an impact on the tourist season this summer.”
Previous high profile documentaries had a substantial positive impact on the tourist industry in the Scottish islands and it would be a shame if the excellent series was not shown widely, he said.
Thank you to my young friend who has figured out how to configure the anti-spam system which was sending all your well-considered comments directly into the spam folder and marking them unsuitable for publication.
From now on, you will be asked to confirm you are not a spammer by ticking a box. This should stop the spam from automated robots but allow humans. The system will then accept and publish your comment – unless you have used any banned words. Hopefully, that has sorted the problem. Thank you for everyone’s patience. I
Full Scottish and Southern statement showing no interconnector will even be commissioned before 2017
SHE Transmission welcomes the publication today of the Scottish Islands Renewable Report. The report highlights the challenge SHE Transmission faces 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.
SHE Transmission believes that the UK and Scottish Government’s response to the report is a positive step forward for a long-standing issue and looks forward to further Ministerial consideration of the issues which would allow it to submit a sound, economic case to Ofgem to permit the construction of the island links.
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.
In the case of the Western Isles, SHE Transmission has spent over £5m developing options, consulting communities, applying for planning permission and engaging suppliers on the link which, at a cost of around £700m, 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.
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.
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.”
In the meantime, SHE Transmission continues to progress a number of major infrastructure projects including, amongst others:
- the completion of the Dounreay to Beauly upgrade;
- progress on the construction of Beauly to Denny;
- the advancement of Kintyre to Hunterston link through the regulatory approval process;
- the advancement of the Caithness to Moray reinforcement through the regulatory approval process; and
- The submission of the final application for consent for the East Coast 400kV project.
These projects will allow the connection to the grid of significant amounts of electricity from renewable sources, contributing to energy security, economic growth and decarbonisation of electricity generation.