Work Begins Replacing Subsea Cable

Replacing one of the subsea cables which links Orkney to the Scottish Mainland is to begin. Two cables link Orkney’s electricity supply up to the National Grid.

The work by  Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN),  has received marine licence approval from Marine Scotland.

Rackwick Bay - Hoy credit SSEN

Rackwick Bay, Hoy, Orkney

The £30 million cable replacement project involves the installation of a new 33 kilovolt (kV) cable which follows the existing route from Murkle Bay, near Thurso, to Rackwick Bay on the island of Hoy.

The subsea cable replacement work will be undertaken by principal contractor, Global Offshore, with the cable expected to arrive by the 15th of July.

Contract partners will support associated programme works, including near shore works, archaeological and ecological checks and works on the existing overhead network on Hoy.

Some of the overhead line on Hoy will be removed and replaced with underground cable. SSEN expects to complete all works by November, following an extension of the programme to avoid construction during bird breeding season on the island.

All contractors working on the project will closely follow current Government guidance with measures taken to protect both the public and the construction teams. These include additional management of work and travel schedules, adherence to social distancing and the use of enhanced personal protective equipment.

Murkle Bay - Caithness credit SSEN

Murkle Bay, Caithness

Mark Rough, Director of Customer Operations, SSEN, said:

“We’re committed to ensuring a safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity to our customers and this critical investment project is an essential part of that commitment.

“We’d like to thank all stakeholders for their feedback on our proposals during our open-door events last year. Following consultation, we’ve scheduled installation to minimise disruption on local marine life, with the works also planned to avoid the main breeding seasons for key bird populations.

“I’d like to reassure our customers that our teams and contracting partners continue to adhere to social distancing measures and Government guidance to protect the safety of the local community as we carry out this significant programme of works.”

SSEN is undertaking a significant programme of investment to replace around 90km of submarine cables connecting Scotland’s island communities by 2023 – a fifth of the total number currently in operation.

The Pentland Firth East cable was identified for replacement after routine inspections found it was coming to the end of its operational life. In July 2019, SSEN successfully completed repairs to the cable in Rackwick Bay following a cable fault. While customer power supplies were not impacted by this fault, a long-term solution was required to maintain a safe, secure and reliable power supply to homes and businesses in Orkney.

For more information on the Pentland Firth East cable replacement project, please visit

hoy rackwick martin laird

Hoy Rackwick Photo Martin Laird

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