A £30 million project to replace one of the two submarine electricity distribution cables connecting Orkney to mainland Scotland has hit a major milestone.
Specialist marine vessels the Normand Clipper and the Global Symphony have installed a new subsea cable between Murkle Bay near Thurso and Rackwick Bay on the island of Hoy as part of the development by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks.
The work, which is being carried out by principal contractor Global Offshore as well as other partners, is expected to be completed in November.
The latest landmark means engineers can begin land-based work on Hoy to replace existing overhead power lines with an underground cable can get underway.
McGowan Environmental Engineering will excavate a stretch of 7km route in order to make way for the new wire.
The Pentland Firth East project forms part of “a significant programme of investment” by SSEN to replace around 90km of submarine cables connecting Scotland’s island communities by 2023 – a fifth of the total number currently in operation.
Over the coming weeks vessels will carry out various operations in the area, including laying rock bags on sections of the cable and installing cable protection near the shore.
Mark Rough, director of customer operations at SSEN said: “The Pentland Firth East project is one of the single biggest standalone projects for our teams, with the £30m investment critical to ensuring long-term security of supply to the islands.
“We’re pleased the project is progressing well, with cable installation and burial operations complete and our land cable works well under way. We’re committed to providing opportunities for the local supply chain as we carry out these works, so it’s great to see our contract partners making best use of the local resources available.”
Derek Mackay, director of McGowan Environmental Engineering, added: “We’re delighted to be working with SSEN to deliver this significant programme of investment for the islands. In support of the local community, we are working with local suppliers to assist with the delivery of the project, including Pentland Ferries to mobilise plant and equipment and McAdie & Reeve to stockpile and distribute the specialist sand which will surround the new underground cable.
“For the duration of the project, we’ve leased the Hoy Centre and Rackwick Hostel to base our teams and operations. We’d like to reassure everyone our employees continue to adhere to social distancing measures and Government guidance to protect the safety of the local community as we work.”