OFGEM must give proper consideration both to the enormous socio-economic benefits the proposed Western Isles interconnector would unlock and the importance these projects would have in Scotland’s fight against climate change, argues Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan.

The islands MSP was responding to OFGEM’s consultation on the Final Needs Case and Delivery Model for the Western Isles Transmission Project. In March, OFGEM announced that it was “minded-to” reject proposals to build a 600MW transmission link to connect the Western Isles but that it would approve a significantly reduced 450MW link instead.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“This is an issue of critical importance for my constituency. We have some of the highest utilisable wind resources in Europe. For centuries, this has been thought of as a negative, something to be endured. The renewables opportunities of the 21st century give us a chance to utilise this to a positive end.

“OFGEM have based their rejection of a 600MW link on fears that they may end up funding a potentially significantly underutilised link. Given that the cost difference between the two options is less than 5%, I find this position hard to fathom. There is also the problem that if the 450MW link were to proceed it would be likely be fully utilised in a relatively short space of time. We would then find ourselves in the position of examining options for an additional transmission link, something which would cost hundreds of millions of pounds more and would cost consumers significantly more in the long run.

“A 600MW interconnector is the best, most economical option for the Western Isles as well as consumers across the country. I hope that OFGEM will take all relevant factors into account, reverse its previous decision and approve the 600MW option.”

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