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OHS meetings with SSEN and with local groups, 17 Dec 2018

More than thirty people met at the Kirkwall Town Hall on Monday evening to discuss SSEN’s proposals to upgrade Orkney’s grid connections. Representatives from RSPB, Community Councils, Orkney Renewable Energy Forum, Orkney Pilgrimage, Keep Hoxa Beautiful, and Orkney Field Club among others discussed the scheme after a presentation by Orkney Heritage Society’s Neil Kermode.

While OHS and most of those present at the meeting welcomed the growth and success of Orkney’s renewables industry, the general feeling was clear; that the planned extension of transmission capacity showed a wilful disregard for the landscape in which the people of Orkney live. The overriding concern of the developers has been to keep costs to an absolute minimum regardless of visual impact on the environment. In addition the verdict on the level and quality of consultation by SSEN was damning – minimal information, misleading graphical representations of visual impact of the proposals, and virtually no real consultation. “Unfortunately SSEN are here to sell, not to listen” said Mr Kermode. “The possibility of undergrounding the new cables instead of the unsightly ‘Trident’ poles was not included in the consultation exercise, and details of the results of the consultations have been withheld. In addition the plans have shown little respect for the landscape, and when questioned on technical detail, SSEN have adopted a ‘we know best’ attitude.”

Real concern was expressed at the proposed Trident poles – upwards of 700 very large double poles, standing 56 feet high and 100 yards apart, which will stand in addition to the existing distribution network. To give some context, Orkney’s existing Hydro poles are 39 feet in height (see illustration).

There is similar concern about the visual impact of the planned substation at Finstown.  This complex of twelve buildings will have a ridge height of about 45 feet and will sit to the west of Finstown above the Harray Road junction.  In addition there will be substations on South Ronaldsay and at Ellibister, each of which will have twice the footprint of the new McGregor Industrial Supplies building at Hatston, and a third higher.

It was learnt then that an option of an underwater cable across Scapa Flow had been dismissed at a very early stage, based on what appears to be incomplete evidence.
The overwhelming feeling of the meeting on Monday evening was that Orkney deserves much better, and that the options of undergrounding and submarining cables, and ‘burying’ substation buildings must be pursued vigorously with SSEN while also informing the Orkney public of the threats of existing plans.

Orkney Heritage Society would like to make the Orkney public aware of just how severe an impact on the Orkney landscape the proposed project will have, not just the visual impact of the proposed cables, poles and structures, but also on the natural environment. The public are encouraged to view the detail on the proposals and make their opinions known to SSEN via their website (, and to complete a poll set up by Orkney Heritage Society – for the poll click here.

PUBLIC MEETING re: SSEN Orkney Transmission Project – Sat 24 Nov 7.30pm

Saturday 24 November 7.30pm.

Public Meeting at Firth Community Centre, Finstown.

Chaired by Alistair Carmichael MP.

To hear and discuss Orkney Heritage Society’s serious concerns about the electrical transmission works planned by SSEN in Orkney and shortcomings in the consultation events already held.

While SSEN have just announced some welcome revisions to their proposed works (see here), OHS believe these changes do not go far enough. There are still grave concerns over the impact the infrastructure will have on Orkney’s landscape and heritage.

SSEN Orkney Project Consulation – Have your say – OHS Opinion Poll

SSEN Orkney Project Consulation – Have your say – OHS Opinion Poll

Further to our previous message (see below news item), OHS has launched an online opinion poll on SSEN’s Orkney Project.

By clicking on this link you can enter your views via the OHS Opinion Poll on the SSEN consultation exercise and also on the project itself. OHS will use the responses it gets to ensure its representations remain well grounded.

Please do use this system as it allows us to rapidly collate views. It should work on all devices and you can paste text into your reply if required.

Finally, please also take the time to respond to SSEN’s consultation itself via the SSEN website. (Click here).

The above image is SSEN’s model showing the view from Grimeston Rd / Harray Rd junction, looking c. south showing the proposed sub-station buildings to the west of Finstown.

To see how your location will be impacted and for more detail on the proposed works, including maps showing the proposed routes of overhead power lines and locations of sub-stations, CLICK HERE   (Note – you may then need to scroll to top of page and click ‘Project Documentation’).

We hope to see you at our AGM on Thursday 15 November 2018 at the St. Magnus Centre at 7:15pm.


David Murdoch

Vice-Chair, Orkney Heritage Society

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