MSP meets with SSE to discuss power difficulties

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Michael Russell MSP for Argyll and Bute has met with representatives of the SSE transmission network to discuss the difficulties for Islay and Jura caused by the failure of the power cable that links the islands to the mainland.

He also heard about the plans in place to replace the cable at the first possible moment.

Mr Russell said: ‘I was grateful to SSE for agreeing to the meeting in my office in Edinburgh and for the detailed information they gave me.

‘I sought the meeting after a number of complaints from Islay and Jura about power cuts and local concern regarding the sustainability of the supply after the complete failure of the cable last November.

‘The cable is only five years old and the failure does not appear to have been caused by damage caused on the seabed. The expected life of a cable is 25 years and some currently functioning cables are older so this was an unexpected fault but SSE have responded to the challenge very quickly.

‘They have secured the permissions they need to replace the cable, which they decided early on was the best solution. They have put in place temporary generation and have drafted in extra staff to the island to ensure the operation of the equipment.

‘They recognise that there have been more interruptions to supply since the cable failure than are acceptable, but some of them have been caused by lightning strikes and other circumstances outwith their control.

‘SSE has been ready to put the new cable in place for some weeks but the weather has been against them. They need three clear and reasonably calm days but the number of storms and the very high and heavy sea state between storms has not allowed them to do the job.

‘They continue to have a cable-laying ship on standby, ready to get to work as soon as the weather permits it. They assure me that will continue to be the case.

‘I know that this is a difficult situation for the island and for SSE but clearly much work is being done to try and mitigate it, and resolve it. I have agreed to keep in touch with SSE and I look forward to the matter being concluded at the earliest possible time.’