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Offshore wind plan welcomed as boost for far north communities

By Scott Maclennan

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Maree Todd MSP.
Maree Todd MSP.

The far north looks set to play a major part of Scottish Government plans to ramp up offshore wind power generation by 2030.

In newly released proposals the government hopes to generate as much as 11 gigawatts of electricity – enough to power eight million homes – by the end of the decade.

If successful, offshore wind capacity in Scottish waters could support the delivery of Scotland’s 2017 Energy Strategy and the decarbonisation of both heat and transport.

The move was agreed following an extensive consultation with industry, stakeholders, coastal communities and environmental organisations.

As well as outlining the economic opportunities offshore wind presents, the government has also adopted a plan identifying suitable areas for commercial-scale offshore wind projects.

This will inform the first seabed leasing process led by the newly devolved Crown Estate Scotland.

The development has been called potentially transformative by Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd, who will be aiming to succeed Gail Ross in representing Caithness, Sutherland and Ross at next May’s Holyrood election.

“Here in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, we have massive offshore wind potential, and harnessing this asset could be transformative,” she said.

“We have a huge opportunity in Scotland to end our contribution to climate change and we can lead the transition to the decarbonised age.

“We already have the world's most ambitious emissions reductions targets in law because we recognise our moral responsibility to tackle climate change in Scotland.

Proposed and already approved offshore wind farm developments.
Proposed and already approved offshore wind farm developments.

“I believe we have an economic responsibility too, to harness this asset and use it to benefit the people who live here – not just by securing energy supply, but by securing skilled jobs and community benefit in some of the most fragile communities in Scotland.

“We can do more than just help ourselves though. We can lead the world in building the new economy of the future, creating sustainable technologies and jobs that can secure our prosperity.”

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “This is a pivotal moment for the development of our offshore wind sector.

“Our seas are host to some of the best offshore wind resources in the world and our ambition to capitalise on our offshore wind generation capacity is part of the bold action we are taking to support economic recovery and become a net-zero society.

“We want to harness Scotland’s enviable wind resource for our energy system and unlock significant investment in the supply chain to create more green jobs across the sector.

“To ensure that developers have a clear framework to deliver the next round of offshore wind projects, we have also published a Sectoral Marine Plan identifying areas that are appropriate for commercial-scale developments and providing a strategic springboard for achieving our aspirations for future development.”

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