The backers of a proposed offshore wind farm west of Orkney have hailed the submission of key consent documents as a “major milestone” for the project.
It is the first scheme from last year’s mammoth ScotWind leasing round to enter the consenting process.
A consortium of Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and Renewable Infrastructure Development Group secured rights to develop the two-gigawatt (GW) project about 19 miles from Orkney.
125 offshore turbines
The wind farm is expected to have up to 125 turbines on fixed foundations, delivering first power to the grid in 2029.
There is already an agreement with National Grid for a connection in Caithness, though the project partners are also exploring options to power a proposed hydrogen “hub” on Flotta.
According to developers, there is the potential for both power export options to be used.
West of Orkney Windfarm development manager Jack Farnham said: “Any project which intends to power around two million homes cannot be undertaken in isolation from the communities in which it will operate.
“Over the last two years we’ve organised 33 public events, reaching over 2,400 residents across Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney.
“These events have served as a platform for the community to actively participate and engage with the project’s design, ensuring we develop an environmentally responsible and socially beneficial project that resonates with local needs and aspirations.”
The submission includes applications for consent under the Electricity Act 1989 and marine licence applications under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010. Accompanying these are various assessments based on survey data collected over two-and-a-half years.
The application’s environmental impact assessment (report has been managed through the Stromness office ofd Aberdeen-based consultancy Xodus Group.
Mr Farnham said it outlined a commitment by the developers to safeguard marine habitats, protect wildlife and minimise any potential disturbances to the local ecosystem.
At one with nature?
Submissions include a “biodiversity enhancement plan” for the scheme to “positively interact” with the surrounding environment.
“We believe these applications underscore our commitment to delivering a project to the very highest environmental standards, Mr Farnham said.
He added: “Securing consent is a critical milestone in unlocking the significant inward investment this ambitious project will generate, and bringing economic and social benefits to the communities in which we will operate.”
Application details can be found on the project website and will also will be made available in “several public locations”.
Nick Sharpe, director of communications at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “ScotWind is set to transform the energy landscape in Scotland.
“It is encouraging to see West of Orkney Windfarm become the first project from last year’s leasing round to enter the consenting process.
“Plans are in place for over 27GW of new offshore wind capacity – equivalent to 13 more West of Orkney projects – to be built over the next decade.
“Obtaining consent is just one of the many steps each of those schemes will have to take before these wind farms can start powering our net-zero future.”