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Assembly of the new steel towers between Dounreay and Thurso South

27th May 2016

Photograph of Assembly of the new steel towers between Dounreay and Thurso South

Work to reinforce the overhead power line that forms the spine of the existing electricity transmission network in Caithness passed the half way mark this month (May 2016), with progress continuing apace in the good weather.

The new 275 kilovolt line will link substations at Dounreay, Thurso and Spittal, where the underground and subsea cable to Moray is set to begin its 100 mile journey. An additional 132 kilovolt line is also to be built to strengthen the existing network to the south, between Spittal and Mybster.

Almost all tower foundations along the full length of the overhead line upgrade have already been completed, together with temporary access tracks required for their construction. The assembly of the new steel towers between Dounreay and Thurso South is almost complete and the ‘stringing' of wires on this section of the line has recently begun progressing east from Dounreay.

The stringing process makes use of scaffolded gantries, which have started to go up, in order to protect road and railway crossings while the conductors (wires) are being pulled on to the new towers.

Commenting on the progress achieved to date, SHE Transmission's Lead Project Manager Ian Clark said:

"The work to renew the existing transmission network in Caithness is a crucial element of the wider Caithness-Moray reinforcement. It involves construction of a completely new overhead line, as well as the new substation a short distance south of Thurso and an extension at Mybster.

"Our team on site has pulled together and brought us to the half way point on schedule, with everyone from our principal contractor Balfour Beatty down to the smallest subcontractors playing their part. Fast progress has been achieved without losing focus on the safety of the public and our team on site, which is our first priority at all times. We are determined to maintain that focus until the line is energised successfully, the old towers are taken down and reinstatement of affected areas is completed.

"I would like to place on record our thanks to local farmers, landowners and communities for their understanding while we are working in the area. We recognise that our work causes disruption and we will continue our efforts to minimise this wherever possible and address the issues that are raised with us as quickly and effectively as we can."

In a further key milestone for the project, 2 super grid transformers are due to be delivered in the next week to Scrabster, which will then make their way via the A9 to the Thurso South substation site at Geiselittle over the following 10 days. The deliveries will be carried out by a specialist haulier, with each transformer being transported in 3 main parts before final assembly at the site.

Mr Clark added:“The construction of level platform areas at both substation sites is now complete and work to assemble the electrical equipment has commenced in earnest. The arrival of these large transformers at Thurso South has been carefully planned with our specialist haulier, the roads authorities and local police. Everyone involved is aiming to make sure they can complete their short journey to the substation site with the least possible disruption to local traffic, but I would like to apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused."

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