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SSEN Transmission to consult on first of a kind community fund

27 Jun 2023
  • Planned SSEN Transmission community fund will see local people benefit directly from the transmission networks infrastructure they host for the first time
  • Company calls for industry, government and regulator to establish a more ambitious funding approach going forward, recognising the vital role communities will play in enabling net zero

SSEN Transmission has set out plans for its first ever community benefit scheme, which will see the company working with communities across the north of Scotland to channel funds into vital local projects.

The north of Scotland transmission network is set to provide around 10% of the UK’s total carbon reduction required to deliver 2050 net zero targets, and SSEN Transmission believes new funds should recognise the vital role local communities in the area will play in hosting the transmission infrastructure that is required to make net zero a reality.

The company is looking to work with the energy regulator, Ofgem, to agree a Community Benefit Legacy Fund associated with net zero transmission infrastructure projects which have been approved by Ofgem, have an investment value of £100m or more and for which construction has already commenced or will commence between now and 2026.

To help inform discussions with the regulator, and to inform development of proposals for funds associated with future projects, SSEN Transmission will be consulting with communities in July on delivering this proposed Community Benefit Legacy Fund. The fund will see over £10m being spent on delivering a sustainable and positive legacy for communities hosting large net zero infrastructure assets in the Highlands, Aberdeenshire, Orkney, Shetland, Angus and Argyll.

Examples of eligible projects that these funds are designed to apply to include: Port Ann to Crossaig, the East Coast 400kV upgrade, Fort Augustus to Invergarry and the Shetland HVDC link, the Skye and Argyll projects and the Eastern Green Link 2 from Peterhead to Drax in England.

Crucially, input from local community members will play a vital role in establishing how investments in community projects will be made.

Looking to the future, at their Pathway to 2030 projects and beyond, SSEN Transmission is working with the UK and Scottish Governments to establish an even more ambitious community benefit framework for projects that are currently being consulted on, and are due to be delivered by the end of the decade and beyond. This would be expected to include projects such as the Spittal to Beauly, Spittal to Peterhead, Beauly to Peterhead and Tealing to Kintore projects.

In response to the UK Government’s wider consultation on electricity transmission network community benefit, SSEN Transmission gave clear support for its introduction, and called for a framework that ensures that the value of funds made available to communities is sufficient in providing transformational local impacts and supporting a just transition to net zero.

Given the long life of transmission infrastructure, SSEN Transmission is also calling for future funds to be extended across the lifetime of network assets, which would be consistent with voluntary and well-established community benefit principles for onshore wind infrastructure.

The company has also backed the Government’s intention that a flexible approach to Community Benefit Guidance is established to ensure funding is tailored to meet the specific needs of communities and regions.

Speaking on the fund consultation launch and wider Government discussion on community benefit funds, SSEN Transmission’s Managing Director, Rob McDonald, said:

“Launching a consultation on our first funds in the north of Scotland and recognising the vital role that communities in the region are already playing by hosting critical national infrastructure, is a really big step in the right direction. The initial £10m+ will have a lasting positive economic impact and we’re committed to working with communities and other stakeholders in the region to make sure that investment is made wisely.

“It's just the start though. And that’s why we’ve reached out to Government with our thoughts on how we can go further on community benefit for electricity transmission infrastructure.

"The projects we’ll deliver between now and 2030 in the north of Scotland are significant. They’ll create thousands of jobs and add economic value to the area. Properly recognising the contribution that the communities in the region will play in hosting that infrastructure is important. And a proportionate approach to community benefit helps us to do just that."

Rob McDonald, Managing Director, SSEN Transmission

The Government’s consultation period on transmission community benefit closed earlier this month and a response to the consultation is expected later this year.