Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has urged regulator OFGEM to heed concerns raised by many islanders regarding draft plans they have for the network locally.

SSEN Distribution, the electricity distribution and transmission network operator for the North of Scotland, put forward significant investment proposals for the Western Isles in their 2023-2028 business plan. This included the replacement of the current 31-year-old single cable serving Uist and Barra with two new subsea cables.

However, OFGEM has blocked investment in the two new cables and well as the replacement of the existing cable serving Uist and Barra.

In responding to the consultation on the Draft Determinations, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“Rejecting these options will have a clear, negative impact on the resilience of Uist and Barra. It will also constrain the further development of the renewables sector in Uist and Barra, despite significant interest from community groups and industry.

“Despite suffering from the highest rates of fuel poverty, households in the Western Isles face energy bills that are on average 26% higher than the current energy cap. This inherently unfair situation will be compounded if they cannot rely on a resilient and robust network that virtually every other part of the country would expect.

“Many of my constituents have expressed a view that Ofgem simply does not understand the unique challenges faced by SSEN in delivering and maintaining a reliable distribution network in the Western Isles.

“The unique characteristics and requirements of the North of Scotland require a bespoke approach. Scotland has set a legally binding 2045 net zero target, five years ahead of the rest of the UK. This can only be achieved by accelerating electrification and greater investment is required in both network capacity and reliability to facilitate decarbonisation, and support an ever-increasing reliance on the electricity network.

“It is imperative Ofgem that urgently reconsiders their Draft Determinations affecting the Western Isles. Islander consumers should have access to as reliable and resilient a network as the consumers on the mainland.”

Ofgem’s RIIO-ED2 Draft Determinations Consultation is available at

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