Plans to build 10 wind farms off the coast of Scotland moved a step forward this week, after Britain’s Crown Estate gave companies the green light to explore the sites.
Scottish Power and E.ON are among the nine firms to be awarded “exclusivity agreements” for locations which include the Solway Firth and Wigtown Bay. This will allow wind developers to begin surveying the sites while a government environmental assessment is conducted.
The farms have the potential to generate 6GW of power if approved. And Rob Hastings, director of the Marine Estate at the Crown Estate, said the deals were good news for Scotland: “We very much look forward to working with the companies on the development of these sites and the realisation of the enormous potential that these sites have to offer.”
Similarly, Jason Ormiston, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said it was a landmark move: “Today heralds an exciting phase in the progress of the renewable energy industry in Scotland. The combined capacity of these projects will make a massive contribution to Scotland’s efforts in tacking climate change, helping to deliver reliable and affordable supplies of electricity to consumers and, very importantly, the Scottish economy.”
The agreements are designed to allow companies to begin surveying the sites while the Scottish Government carries out its Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for offshore wind within Scottish territorial waters, which is due to be completed early next year.
However, not all groups have embraced the move. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (Scotland) said it supported the Crown Estate’s move towards renewable energy but was concerned about the impact on Scotland’s marine environment. A spokesman said: “Poorly sited developments could harm seabird populations through collision or disturbance, but we’re confident that Scotland can meet its renewable energy targets several times over without putting wildlife at risk.