Rousay – Westray Subsea Cable gets the Go Ahead

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has been granted a Marine Licence to replace an end of life subsea power cable connecting one of the smallest islands in Orkney to the second largest.

Work to install a 33kV electricity cable measuring 10.8km between the islands of Rousay and Westray has been given the go ahead by Marine Scotland.  It will replace the existing cable which was installed in 1983 and is now nearing the end of its functional life.

The cable replacement is essential for securing the power supplies to the island of Westray and to support the security of supply to the neighbouring islands.

Kirstine Wood, Marine Policy Manager said:

“As a responsible network operator, we are committed to working with the community, fisheries and other sea users to keep everyone informed of construction activities and to minimise any potential disruption during the installation phase.”

shore end - Rousay SSEN

shore end – Rousay credit SSEN

The new submarine cable will be installed along a similar route to the existing cable. Where the natural environment is suitable, the cable will be buried in the sand using a process known as jetting. Where seabed conditions are not suitable for jetting, rock bags will be placed on top of the cable in pre-determined locations to prevent tidal movement and to provide additional protection. At both shore ends, the cable will be buried underground. The installation approach taken will reduce risks and provide a cost-effective cable crossing from island to island.

SSEN has scheduled its works to minimise disruption on local marine life, with the works planned to avoid the key breeding seasons for local seals and key bird populations.

Installation of the replacement cable is due to begin late Spring 2018.

From now until 2023, around 90km of submarine cables connecting Scotland’s island communities will need to be replaced – a fifth of the total number currently in operation.


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