Orkney councillors back offshore wind farm that will bring 'long-term benefits' to far north
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Plans for a wind farm consisting of up to 125 turbines off the north coast have been backed by councillors in Orkney.
The developers of the West of Orkney Windfarm welcomed the endorsement and reiterated that the project will bring "positive, long-term benefits" to Orkney, Caithness and Sutherland.
The turbines will have a maximum blade tip height of 360m and the proposals include cable landfalls on the Caithness coast.
Orkney Islands Council is a statutory consultee for Section 36 consent and marine licence applications for the wind farm, to be located some 30km west of Orkney Mainland and 25km north of the Sutherland coast.
The council’s development and infrastructure committee has given its support to the offshore plans, which are outlined in a consent application submitted to Scottish ministers in October.
The offshore plans contain detailed information on how the wind farm will be constructed, including the proposed location of turbines and cable routes, and includes environmental assessments based on survey data collected over two-and-a-half years.
The final decision on the offshore consent will be made by Scottish ministers following recommendations by the Marine Directorate Licensing Operations Team and taking into account comments made by statutory consultees.
The project will have up to 125 turbines on fixed foundations and an expected capacity of around two gigawatts, with the aim of delivering first power by 2029. It is being developed by a joint venture comprising Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and Renewable Infrastructure Development Group.
West of Orkney Windfarm development manager Jack Farnham said: “We welcome this positive support from Orkney Islands Council.
"We have been working closely with the community and businesses in Orkney for a number of years to ensure our ambitious project will bring positive, long-term benefits to Orkney, Caithness and Sutherland and we are extremely grateful to the officials and elected representatives of the council for their endorsement of our detailed plans.
“The Scottish Government has a stated ambition to deploy 8-11GW of offshore wind in Scottish waters by 2030. As the first ScotWind project to enter the planning process, securing timely offshore consent from the Scottish Government and onshore planning permission from Highland Council will be critical if Scotland is to meet this target, which will unlock significant inward investment and with it economic and social benefits to the far north.”
The developers have already supported a number of initiatives in the north, including a £1 million research and development programme being led by Orkney's European Marine Energy Centre, a £900,000 education initiative led by the University of the Highlands and Islands and a £125,000 Fit 4 Offshore Renewables scheme led by ORE Catapult.
They say there will be opportunities for businesses and organisations in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney, across Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The offshore consent submission includes applications for consent under the Electricity Act 1989 and marine licence applications under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.
The onshore application to Highland Council provided detailed information on the proposed cable landfalls on the Caithness coast to the west of Thurso, the project’s substation at or near Spittal and the underground cables that will extend around 20km and connect to the substation.
The cables will be underground and the land is to be reinstated after installation.