Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is pushing for progress in the renewal and upgrade programme for substations directly supplying power to the Outer Hebrides.

Mr MacNeil had discussions with energy supplier Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) who have strong concerns that works to upgrade and renew substations at Broadford on the Isle of Skye and Quoich have been halted.

SSE outlined that the current substations were reaching the end of life and a lack of progress could lead to future problems as the only way of feeding the Outer Hebrides is through the Fort Augustus line which spurs though Skye and then on to the island groups.

In a letter to Ofgem, Mr MacNeil said: “These are substations that SSE are worried are at the end of their life and if they are not in use, the consequences for those of us at the end of the line would be difficult indeed.

“The only feed to the Outer Hebrides is from the Fort Augustus line passing through Skye which then spurs on to the island groups in the Outer Hebrides, one north to Lewis and Harris and one south to Uist and Barra.

“It is concerning that a risk which would certainly not be accepted in other industries such as aviation seems to be accepted within the energy networks.

“Further I would like to query concerns about the equipment at Sloy hydro power station.  The equipment and transformers there are reaching the end of their lives and if there was ever a black-start issue and Sloy being used to start up Peterhead, to have the possibility of those two being out at the same time seems an unnaturally high risk to take.”

Ofgem have acknowledged the letter from Mr MacNeil and he awaits a response.