Emma Roddick MSP: “interconnector will be a huge boon to Orkney”

head and shoulders image of Emma Roddick giving a speech in the Scottish Parliament

We recently saw the fantastic announcement that Ofgem has finally approved the proposed interconnector for the Islands. I know how hard the council has worked for this moment and it is a real testament to the leadership and staff. 

The new interconnector will connect, via a 57km of subsea cable, the proposed Finstown substation to a new substation at Dounreay in Caithness. 

This means that the proposed Orkney Community Wind Farm Project, which the council estimates will produce 90MW of energy, will be able to deliver on its aims of an average real profit of £5.5 million per year for the Council, which over the 25-year lifespan of the project would equate to a profit of nearly £138 million. 

Orkney is lucky enough to play home to vast amounts of renewable energy and this transmission connection will help to unlock its abundant green energy potential. 

However, despite this massive potential source of green energy, which will help us in achieving our ambitious net zero targets, UK energy policy continues to disadvantage areas with such huge green energy potential like Orkney. 

Energy producers here, and right across Scotland, are penalised when connecting to the national grid. A report from the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee in 2021 found that while Scottish producers were charged to connect to the grid, English and Welsh producers were actually paid to connect their projects to the grid. 

This is a throwback to when the current policies were designed, but we were working in a different era then. These policies were designed to encourage energy generation closest to demand. But this makes no sense as we move to decarbonise our energy supply. The move to wind, solar, and tidal energy means our energy policies urgently need to be updated to reflect the new reality of energy production.  

It is not only producers who suffer from being “far from demand”. Ordinary Orcadians are also punished through higher standing charges than those who live elsewhere in the UK. When so much energy is being produced right here, it is deeply unfair that we should pay more for it. 

This interconnector will be a huge boon to Orkney, providing not only cash for communities and the local authority but investment and jobs as well. But it is clear that we need to have a wholesale redesign of our energy policies in order to maximise the potential of this interconnector to Orkney.

 I am not convinced that the UK Government will deliver on such reform. 

With independence, Scotland will be able to go much further and build our own, fairer, and more modern energy policies.

 Just a reminder I will be holding surgeries in Orkney in August. My Orkney surgeries will be on the 10th and the 11th of August, in Kirkwall and Hoy respectively.

If you are in need of help, please contact my office to book a slot.

You can email emma.roddick.msp@parliament.scot including your name, address and contact number, or phone 01463 563036.

This is a regular column by SNP MSP Emma Roddick. All Highlands and Islands MSPs have been offered the same space in the Orkney News to share their personal views.

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