Firm’s last ditch bid to split huge offshore windfarm

A green energy firm is making an 11th hour bid to split onshore work for a huge offshore windfarm into two parts

Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) has already won permission to site 186 turbines 14 miles from the Caithness coast.

But it needs to connect the development to the National Grid.

Councillors have approved the construction of two electricity substations near New Deer, but that was conditional on the company providing planners with information about the proposed layout of cabling works and the impact on roads and the local environment.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Banff and Buchan area committee will be told tomorrow that MORL wants to split the scheme in two to allow the substations to be built before it finalises a route for 20 miles of underground cabling.

That would allow the firm to have the stations online by the planned date of connection to the grid in 2016.

Stephen Archer, the local authority’s director of infrastructure services, has urged councillors to support the move.

In a report on the new planning application, he says MORL is continuing to “engage” with landowners to define the cable’s route, but that the two phases – if run together – could not be completed by next year.

Mr Archer says: “This involves site investigations, further environmental surveys, discussions with landowners and detailed offshore and onshore engineering investigations at the landfall to determine the optimum location for the cables and the detailed mitigation measures required for the route.

“Given the volume of work required to survey and define the 33-kilometre long cable route, there is not enough time available to carry out these tasks prior to the early 2016 deadline.

“The applicant therefore requires to split the condition into a ‘cable phase’ and a ‘substation phase’ to allow them to resolve the matters required for the substation and commence work within the aforementioned deadlines, while the longer, more intensive cable route surveys and assessment continue to be carried out.”

Area committee members will be asked for their views on the proposal before it goes to a full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council for a decision on June 18.

The cable will come ashore at Inverboyndie Bay, near Banff.