A renewable energy firm is seeking approval to bring forward work on key infrastructure to support a massive offshore windfarm.
Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) was granted consent for up to 186 turbines to be sited 14 miles from the Caithness coastline last year.
As part of the onshore works required, Aberdeenshire councillors backed plans to build two electricity substations near New Deer and 20 miles of underground cable to run from land to the west of Cairnbanno House to Inverboyndie, near Banff, in September.
The work at New Deer was conditional on the company providing council planners with detailed information on the proposed layout of the cable works, as well as the impact on roads and the local environment.
However, the energy firm has now asked to begin construction of the New Deer substations before this information is submitted, to ensure the scheme is delivered on time.
Moray Offshore Renewables’ Craig Milroy said separating the construction of the substation from the time-consuming cable planning phase meant MORL could complete the project faster.
He said: “This ensures that efficient use can be made of time, and expectations of other stakeholders can be met through readiness of the substation site to accommodate the equipment required by both MORL and those who own and operate the grid.”
Council planners have backed the move.
In a report to next week’s Buchan area committee, infrastructure chief Stephen Archer says: “The purpose of the application is to allow work to be carried out on the substation site before the matters specified which relate to the cable route and landfall site at Inverboyndie have been approved.
“In order to achieve the contracted grid connection date as specified by the Transmission Owner (Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission, SHE-T), the applicant must start work on the substation site in early 2016.
“The finalised cable route and landing area will not be established until after that time.”
Buchan councillors will discuss the revised planning application next week before it is put to full council in June.