Scottish Power Renewables has publicly acknowledged that is “considering a revision to the design” of its Argyll Array offshore wind farm, in light of evidence that two protected species rely on an underwater reef that currently sits within the project boundary.
The revision is expected to reduce the overall size of Argyll Array, admits SPR, by excluding either “part or all” of Skerryvore Reef. This may be necessary because the reef is a breeding ground for the basking shark, as well as a winter feeding ground for the great northern diver.
Development of Argyll Array has already been delayed by these biodiversity concerns, with Windpower Offshore reporting in August that SPR had pushed back the timetable for submission of its consent application by a year, from second half (H2) 2013 to H2 2014.
Owned by Spanish energy giant, Iberdrola, SPR says it will “define” the project’s site boundaries next year as well as present proposed layouts featuring both 6MW and 10MW and alternative foundation options. For the time being it has provided a photomontage of the project, which is based around 215 6MW turbines and gravity base foundations. This suggests a total capacity just under 1.3GW. Development rights were awarded for 500MW-1.8GW.
Scottish offshore wind regulator, Marine Scotland, is expected to propose locations for new marine protected areas soon. Skerryvore Reef may be on its list.