Connection charge dispute delays link

A vital power link between the Western Isles and the Scottish mainland is being held up by a pay dispute.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has delayed starting work on an undersea interconnector because of the failure of wind farm operators to agree a £95 per megawatt charge.

"The wind farm developers have said they cannot pay that so they have not signed their connection agreement," said SSE chief executive Ian Marchant. "Without a commitment there is no financial guarantee to build the link."

The interconnector is needed to link the increasing number of renewable energy projects in the Hebrides to the national grid and the impasse has been condemned by Western Isles Council.

Leader Angus Campbell described the situation as "discrimination against islands" and suggested that the European Commission should investigate.

"If the UK and Scottish governments are to reach their renewables targets and improve the security of our domestic electricity supply, then the massive resources around the Western Isles are required," he argued.

"If the Western Isles interconnector does not proceed, it will represent one the greatest renewable energy policy failings in recent times and leave the UK government's green aspirations in tatters," he added.

A Scottish Government spokesman called on the UK government and Ofgem to create "the appropriate conditions that will secure a sub-sea cable". DECC responded that the situation is under review.

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