The Crown Estate and the University of the Highlands and Islands have signed a partnership agreement. Reinforcing existing initiatives between the two organisations, it aims to maximise the social benefits of low-carbon energy in the Scottish region.
The memorandum of understanding's stated objective is "to ensure that the people of the Highlands and Islands are well placed to benefit from the opportunities that are presented as we deliver the energy revolution in the Highlands and Islands, Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom". It commits both parties to working together but is not legally binding. Rather, it is "a statement of their shared intention to work together in a spirit of co-operation".
The Crown Estate's Scottish portfolio includes a marine estate, comprising more than half the foreshore and the seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit. It licenses renewable energy developments, including offshore wind. Gareth Baird, The Crown Estate’s Scottish commissioner, said the deal "provides new opportunities for broader and more diverse ways of working together in the future".
A number of offshore wind farms in the Highlands and Islands region are at various stages of planning. Moray Offshore Renewables Limited (MORL) – a joint venture between EDP Renovaveis and Repsol – is planning to develop the Telford, Stevenson and MacColl projects in the Moray Firth. Their combined capacity would be up to 1.5GW.
And the planning proposal for SSE's 1GW Beatrice project – a 75:25 partnership with Repsol Nuevas Energias UK – is currently with Marine Scotland. SSE is also planning the 690MW Islay project. But ScottishPower Renewables put its proposed 1.5GW Argyll Array project on hold for a year in December 2012, while the associated environmental factors are further considered.