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Community engagement with the SSEN subsea cable team

21 Feb 2023

SSEN Distribution, as part of SSE plc, delivers power to millions across the North of Scotland and central Southern England.

It is one of the most geographically diverse and unique patches in the UK. A key part of operations is the subsea cable team, based in Perth.

SSEN continually strive to be a good neighbour in the communities where their teams live and work, and a key element of this commitment is communication - especially ahead of any major projects. This follow-up to the earlier published introduction to the subsea cable team, takes a look at their stakeholder and community engagement strategies.

As part of SSEN's £14.2m upgrade to the electricity network in the North West Highlands, the subsea cable team, along with colleagues from the wider Aultbea-Ullapool project and principal contractor Briggs Marine, have been carrying out an extensive programme of stakeholder engagement in the local communities, both before and during the work taking place.

Meeting with a wide range of local community groups, such as the Loch Broom Sailing Club and key local institutions, including Ullapool Primary School, has been a major part of the teams’ focus - ensuring that everyone knows not only what the actual work will entail, but also explaining the environmental planning and mitigation measures designed to minimise any impact in this beautiful part of the world.

"Community engagement is a key component of any major project we carry out, it’s vital that everyone knows exactly what our project is all about, the work our teams will be doing and when they’ll be doing it. This is a beautiful part of the world, and so our engagement focus over the past year has been one of both listening and reassurance – appreciating the community’s love of their local area and explaining the detailed environmental and marine studies we’ve undertaken to make sure that we’re not causing any harm with our essential works."

Alasdair Crawford, Lead Project Manager in the SSEN subsea team

It's good to talk... and listen

As the subsea cable team began their installation of the new cable across Loch Broom last December, we caught up with some of these community groups when they came to see the work for themselves. It soon became clear just how important the engagement programme has been.

Mark Squires, Headteacher at Ullapool Primary School, says the pupils were really interested in the environmental aspects of the project.

Topher Dawson, Chair of Loch Broom Community Council, highlights the benefits of the wider Aultbea-Ullapool network upgrade.

Paul Copestake, Commodore of Loch Broom Sailing Club, was impressed by the team's focus on making sure everyone was fully informed about the forthcoming works.