This page will display up to date news on SSE as and when notified
A liaison group has now been formed involving SSE, Kilmorack, Beauly and Kiltarlity and meetings are held regularly.
Toll Bypass Path and Altyre are now complete and Kilmorack Community Council has taken over maintenance from the Highland Council for the next three years.
Noise is an ongoing issue and we still have a noise abatement order in place. SSE are still striving to find a permanent solution.
SHET Wester Bablair Update and Future Plans
SSE has a detailed report and can be viewed through this link
The future of the Western Isles HVDC is still not decided as OFGEM have only supported a lower capacity line that SSE state as economically not viable. A stalemate at the moment reliant on an increase in the number of wind farms planned and approved for the Western Isles, supported by CfDs, at which time OFGEM states they would re-assess the needs basis. In real terms the operator, in this case SHET, build the lines but the National Grid(through OFGEM) pays for them. Operating costs (and profits) though fall to the network operator.
Wester Balblair Substation letter to residents
I am writing to update you on developments following your recent contact with us to advise that you are experiencing an increase in noise from the substation at Wester Balblair following the commissioning of equipment that has recently been installed.
I would like to assure you that we take such matters extremely seriously. As soon as you made us aware of an increase in noise from the substation, we appointed SgurrEnergy, recognised experts in this field, to undertake noise monitoring. SgurrEnergy carried out the original baseline noise monitoring required for the Environmental Appraisal (EA) as part of the planning consent process and this information was used to model the expected levels of noise from the new substation.
We have asked Sgurr Energy to carry out further, more detailed testing on the individual components within the substation. The data from these tests is currently being collated by them to provide a more detailed picture of the overall noise profile associated with the substation.
Throughout our investigations, we have been in discussion with the Environmental Health Department at the Highland Council. I am aware that the Environmental Health Department have carried out their own testing and we are currently in discussion with them to ensure that we are using the same baseline data for consistency.
Our representatives met with Highland Council’s Environmental Health Officer (Gregor MacCormack) today, Wednesday 4 September and we have agreed actions with him. As stated, our consultants, Sgurr Energy are processing data recorded from within the substation and we will have a follow up meeting with the Highland Council in the next few weeks once we have all that data. Once we have met with Highland Council for that purpose, we will be in a position to meet with the Community Council along with Highland Council to explain the results of the monitoring and discuss suitable solutions to resolve the issues.
Some residents have asked us why we have not installed individual monitors in residents properties. The reason that we have not done this so far is that our monitoring has taken place at the substation as that we need to understand the source of the noise and monitoring at residents properties will not provide us with this information.
I’m sure that you appreciate that we have to investigate this matter fully and identify the possible cause and the options available to alleviate the issue. I would like to thank you for your continued patience and cooperation and I would like to assure you that we are committed to working with all relevant parties to resolve the issue.
Major Project Liaison Manager – SSE
07825 015507 firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Council Response: Whilst SSE are moving forward we find their reliance on modelling unacceptable and the Highland Council noise assessment has cast serious doubt on their methodology. However SSE have now accepted that there is a serious issue and have been in touch saying that they are planning various short term mitigation measures within the sub station and their management have stated a wish to have a meeting in the next few weeks with the Community. The Community Council is concerned that the time scale for implementation is not declared but reliant on engineers and supplies of equipment. For those suffering disturbance and inconvenience, every day is a day too long. Rest assured that both the Community Council, our local Councillors and The Highland Council are working hard to bring this to a quick and acceptable conclusion.
Noise Issues from Wester Balblair
Some thirty plus residents have raised complaints about noise from the Wester Balblair substation. Ongoing discussions are taking place between the Community Council, SSE and The Highland Council, looking to a resolution to the problem. Reference to the Environmental Survey for the extension states the predicted noise impacts are such that no additional mitigation would be required. The criteria is based on British Standard BS 4142:1997 Rating Industrial Noise Affecting Mixed Residential and Industrial Areas. Obviously this is based on a predominately urban environment very different to the rural area of the Braes. Further study of the ES raises other issues but the Scottish Government passed this application side lining most of the agreed mitigation features. You can’t put the genie back in the box. Noise complaints have been received from as far afield as Ruisaurie, Broallan and as far afield as Leanassie questioning the figures originally provided by SSE. Complaints regarding the high noise levels from the cables have been received from Aigas. Hopefully a resolution will be found but until then anyone with concerns please contact John Stewart who is co-ordinating the objections.
Update: SSE took a limited sample and have stated to the press that noise is within approved limits. However they will look into it. The Highland Council has also taken initial readings that cast a strong element of doubt on the SSE findings. Further readings have now been taken by THC which have indicated that the noise from the Thyristor Reactors would amount to a statutory nuisance in terms of the Environmental protection Act 1990. Thyristor Reactors (static VAR compensators) are to balance the power from renewable energy(Wind Farms). THC will be arranging a meeting with SSE and relevant parties at the earliest opportunity to discuss these findings and identify what actions are necessary. They will also be considering a potential breach of planning conditions. A report was presented to the Community Council meeting and our local Councillors and an urgent response from SSE is to be sought. Ongoing July 2019.