The publication of a timetable for a new sub-sea cable to take electricity from the Western Isles to the mainland has been welcomed by Western Isles Council.
It has been claimed that the delivery of the Western Isles subsea cable – a £800 million project – will open up vast money-making renewable energy opportunities for the islands.
Western Isles Council’s Energy Working Group met with representatives of Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (Shet), who outlined the plan for the roll-out of the new grid connection.
A “needs case” will be submitted to Ofgem in December 2015 and is expected to be approved by June 2016.
Final project assessments are to be complete by July 2017 and contracts will be awarded and construction started in August 2017.
The interconnector is to be completed by 2020.
Council leader Angus Campbell said: “For the first time in a long number of years we have a clear and concise timetable that sets goals and milestones for the completion of this essential grid link.
“The focus placed on the inter-connector to the Outer Hebrides (and the other Scottish Islands) by both the UK and Scottish Governments and by Shet, Ofgem, National Grid and developers has allowed significant progress to be made over the past year.
“We must ensure, over the coming year, that all these partners now hold to that timetable. I will be writing to, and hopefully meeting with, the new Government after the election to remind them of existing commitments and seeking their assistance in ensuring the timetable is fully met.”
Mr Campbell added: “In my view this new timetable offers the very best chance for the future of renewable energy in the islands. We have a set of commercial developers who have fully consented projects that are at a size and scale to afford the huge level of securities and under-writing that are required to fund an inter-connector project, which carries a capital cost in the region of £800m.”
A spokeswoman for Shet said: “We have recently met with Western Isles Council and provided an update and timeline. We are committed to working with the Scottish Government, the UK Government, developers and Ofgem to deliver the connector in a timely fashion.
“There is widespread commitment to this and we are working closely with the people we need to be to make it happen.”