POWER LINE: SSEN awards road improvement contract for Fort Augustus to Skye cable project

The route of the proposed line

Improvements to the road to Glenelg and at Moll in Skye are among the works planned as part of a major power line project proposed for the West Highlands.

SSEN Transmission has awarded RJ McLeod with a multi-million-pound contract to deliver public road improvements, that are required to enable the delivery of key components for the proposed Fort Augustus to Skye 132kV reinforcement project.

Last November Highland Council voted to object to plans to build the 100-mile overhead power line and pylons – though the final decision on the scheme will rest with Scottish ministers.  

Should it get the go-ahead the civil engineering and construction firm will be tasked with carrying out improvements on roads to Kinloch Hourn, Glenelg and Moll, including:

•             Construction of new passing places and improvements to existing passing places, including the removal of excess vegetation, widening, resurfacing and removal of rock outcrops that are restricting the line of sight;

•             Road widening, including excessive vegetation removal and strip widenings to roads at identified pinch points; and

•             Bridge, structure and cattle grid surveys and assessments.

RJ McLeod will also undertake access track maintenance as part of the contract, across private and forestry commission land. Assessment of existing bridges and structures will be carried out to determine the requirement for any further upgrades or improvements.

SSEN said the construction of the Fort Augustus to Skye 132kV Reinforcement Project will provide supply chain opportunities for local and regional businesses.

In advance of the main construction phase, SSEN Transmission and its main Contractors, Balfour Beatty, GE, NorPower, Scottish Woodlands and Wood, are planning a series of ‘Meet the Buyer’ events to promote local and regional supply chain and employment opportunities.

The first of these events is planned for 27th February in Broadford Village Hall.

Deputy project director of the Skye 132kV Reinforcement Project, Paul Higginbotham, said: “Replacing the existing overhead line from Skye to Fort Augustus is crucial in keeping the lights on for homes and businesses along its route and in the Western Isles.

“It will also enable the connection of new renewable electricity generation along its route, supporting Scotland and the UK’s energy security and climate change targets.

“Securing the support of RJ McLeod for carrying out public road improvements in advance of the upgrade work is a big step and demonstrates the positive economic impact that projects like the Skye 132kV Reinforcement can have – supporting jobs in local businesses.”

RJ McLeod’s North Director, Sandy Osborne, said: “We are very pleased to be able to continue working with SSEN Transmission through the award of this public road improvement project which will provide enhanced road improvement works to the local communities of the western Highlands.

!It follows delivery of various energy sector projects for the wider SSE Group across the Highlands including Bhlaraidh and Stronelairg wind farms as well as previous public road improvements on the B851 and B862 too.”

“These works continue to provide opportunity to deliver a boost to the local economy, not only in terms of employment with a local highland contractor, but also in terms of the extensive and valuable local supply chain of goods and services.

“An integral part of the project will be community liaison and protection of the environment and we will follow and build on the good practices deployed and refined on these and other Highland projects.”

The line project is being designed to secure supplies to homes and businesses along the route, and to the Western Isles through a sub-sea cable from north Skye, as well as to carry power for planned renewable energy projects.