Orkney must follow Western Isles interconnector green light, says McArthur

16 Dec 2022

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has reiterated his support for a new transmission connection between Orkney and the Scottish mainland following Ofgem's backing of a 1.8-gigawatt subsea cable to the Western Isles.

As part of the Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment framework, Ofgem announced yesterday (Thursday) their support for five infrastructure projects across Scotland to help meet the government's net-zero targets by 2030.

Mr McArthur has consistently advocated for a new transmission connection to the Scottish mainland so that Orkney can help deliver its renewables potential and Scotland’s net zero targets. A report published last summer by Orkney Islands Council estimated an interconnector to the islands would bring an economic boost worth between £371- £807m to Orkney and up to £1.48 billion for the wider Scottish economy.

Ofgem had conditionally approved proposals by SSEN for a 220MW cable across the Pentland Firth in September 2019, dependent on at least 135MW being secured through new local projects. The islands are currently connected to the Scottish mainland by two subsea cables with a capacity of around 40MW.

Responding to the announcement, Mr McArthur said:

"Ofgem's green light for an interconnector to the Western Isles signals a long overdue shift in government and regulatory policy.

"As SSEN have rightly pointed out, this now provides a clear route for a similar transmission link to Orkney. This is absolutely essential in fulfilling our islands world-leading renewable potential and protecting associated high-value local jobs.

"It is also critical in the context of meeting our ambitious net-zero targets and securing our energy security which has come increasingly to the fore this year. The case for an Orkney interconnector commands strong cross-party support. Ofgem must now outline how this can finally become a reality."

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