A power company last night provoked outrage after it shelved long-standing plans to link wind farms on the Western Isles to the mainland grid.
The controversial decision by Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) came as the company confirmed construction work would begin next year on the controversial Beauly to Denny power line – a project specifically designed to take renewable energy generated in the Highlands and Islands to the south.
Councillors in the Western Isles said they saw the decision on the power link as clear discrimination against Scottish islands and vowed to take the matter to Europe.
Their dream has been of seeing their fragile economy transformed by the renewable energy produced by the winds, waves and tides that sweep the Hebridean archipelago. But first the energy must be sold to the mainland and to do that a new inter-connector is needed.
Yesterday, the Perth-based energy giant told The Herald that generators had declined to sign up to the £95-a-megawatt charges set by the National Grid. Without their commitment, SSE has said it is not to go ahead with the grid connections.
SSE chief executive Ian Marchant said: “The wind farm developers have said they cannot pay that so they have not signed their connection agreement that would give the financial guarantees. No wind farm developer will commit so there is no guarantee to build the link.”
But Angus Campbell, leader of the Western Isles Council, said: “This appears to be simple discrimination against Islands and we have perhaps reached the time when the European Union has to be engaged to investigate the approach.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said ministers also saw this as discrimination. “We believe that the UK Government and Ofgem now need to deliver the appropriate conditions that will secure a sub sea cable connecting the Western Isles to the Scottish mainland. That cable, and those planned for Orkney and Shetland, are vital to delivering our renewable energy potential, sustaining and connecting communities and to creating new jobs.”
A spokesman for the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change said a review in to the situation was under way.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding