An area previously designated for offshore wind development by Scottish authorities is currently under investigation by regulators of marine biodiversity, Windpower Offshore can report.
The Argyll Array zone being developed by ScottishPower Renewables is subject to an “area search”.
Results of the search could lead, eventually, to part of the zone being proposed as a marine special area of conservation (SAC) by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Development within SACs is limited under the terms of EU habitat protection legislation.
SPR has already confirmed that it is open to redesigning the Argyll Array project in response to biodiversity concerns, should this prove necessary. To date, concerns have focused on the breeding grounds of the basking shark and a winter feeding area for the great northern diver. Both are protected species. Argyll Array is planned for an area off the west coast of the inner Hebridean island of Tiree.
Another offshore wind project being pursued by SPR, the first phase of the East Anglia zone, has taken a significant step forward in recent weeks, with submission of a consent application and environmental statement to the UK Planning Inspectorate.
Last month, Scotland proposed the creation of five additional marine SACs, but none of these overlap with existing offshore wind development zones.