Districts, November 27 2020

Jura's electricity network.
Jura's electricity network.

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Electricity network upgrade complete

A £1 million project to ensure a robust and resilient power supply to the islands of Islay and Jura is now complete.

Working with principal contractor PLPC, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has completed upgrade works to refurbish the existing overhead network on Jura, which also serves as the main circuit powering Islay and has been delivering power to the islands for around 60 years.

The £1 million investment saw the replacement of essential equipment on the overhead circuit from Lagg towards Islay, which is exposed to salt erosion from coastal air, enhancing the security of supply to the local community.

SSEN’s teams started work in Jura in October 2019 but had to temporarily pause works to replace the submarine electricity distribution cable connecting the island to mainland Scotland.

Ross Fenton, head of SSEN’s South Caledonia region, said: ‘This project forms part of a long-term investment plan to provide a safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity to homes and businesses in Islay and Jura.

‘We’re pleased to complete this initial investment and would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their patience as we progressed these essential works to deliver a more robust electricity network and improve the service we provide to our customers on the islands.’

As part of its north of Scotland resilience plan, SSEN has committed to improve the quality of supply to homes and businesses in areas experiencing more than three power cuts per year, with the latest investments proposed in Islay and Jura.

In addition to the completed works in Jura, SSEN is proposing to install an additional wooden pole overhead line circuit between Port Askaig and Port Ellen, alongside upgrades to the main substations in Islay, to further strengthen the resilience of the network powering homes and businesses on the islands.


Planning to site workers’ caravans approved

Plans to site 40 caravans for workers on an overhead line project at Tarbert have been given the go-ahead by planning chiefs.

Building contractor Balfour Beatty submitted an application to temporarily install the facilities at West Loch Shores Holiday Park.

The staff, who will be based in the caravans, will be working on the Inveraray to Crossaig overhead line project organised by Southern and Scottish Energy Networks. Plans to secure accommodation for them had been put on ice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Council planning officers have now allowed the plans to proceed after they received no objections from members of the public.

In a statement to the council, reproduced in a handling report, a spokesperson for Balfour Beatty said: ‘The proposal involves self-contained sleeper units which have sleeping, living, cooking, washing and toilet facilities which will house Balfour Beatty staff for the duration of the project.’

The spokesperson revealed that Balfour Beatty had found it ‘very difficult’ to find accommodation in the area for ‘approximately 80 more people’ who are due to travel to Argyll to work on the project in the coming months, adding that the company met with ‘strong opposition from locals’ when it previously explored the option of developing areas of land near Whitehouse and Furnace.

A council planning officer added in the report: ‘This proposal is aimed at keeping  residents safe from the potential impact of Covid and to facilitate the works.

‘In this instance, the proposal relates to essential infrastructure works and will have the added benefit of potentially protecting communities from Covid-19.

‘Although it is accepted that workers will need to access facilities such as shops, petrol stations etc, measures are in place to ensure staff and other users are protected i.e. face coverings, hand sanitizer and social distancing.’