Uncertainty over Western Isles cable 'disappointing'
The Scottish government has expressed disappointment at the uncertainty over a start date for the construction of a subsea power cable.
The interconnector would supply electricity generated by renewable projects on the Western Isles to the Scottish mainland.
Scottish Hydro Electric (SHE) said work could potentially start this year.
But it said it would need financial support from developers and approval from regulator Ofgem.
SHE, a subsidiary of energy giant SSE, said earlier this week that it could be in a position to appoint contractors this summer if this backing was secured.
Plans for the cable have suffered delays and rising costs.
Local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Stornoway Trust, which is involved in wind power projects, have concerns the cable will not be constructed.
The Scottish government said SHE was the only company with a licence to lay the cable.
A spokesperson told BBC Alba: "Under this system, there is no option for a third party to install the subsea cable instead of SHE Transmission."
The spokesperson added: "The delays and uncertainty for developers on Western Isles are clearly disappointing.
"Energy Minister Fergus Ewing met with SSE earlier this week and the Scottish government will continue to work with industry and Ofgem to seek interim solutions to connect more generation, drive forward the necessary grid connection upgrades and ensure a fair transmission charging regime."