Three separate planning applications were received by Marine Scotland earlier this week for the construction of up to 1.5GW of offshore wind capacity in the Moray Firth.
Originally, the plan was for a public announcement of the applications to take place on 3 September in Inverness, Windpower Offshore understands. But the Scottish press reported on the story extensively this week, prompting early release of information about the applications by Moray Firth Offshore Renewables, a joint venture created by the developers, EDP and Repsol.
Three offshore wind farms of 400-500MW each are being proposed, confirmed project director, Dan Finch, speaking with Windpower Offshore.
If these are approved without significant delay, the intention is to build the projects consecutively, and to have all three up and running by 2020. "Building 400-500MW a year is doable," commented Finch.
The three applications were submitted simultaneously, in order to allow regulators and the public to "see the overall picture" and to understand the projects’ cumulative impacts, explained Finch.
The projects have been named after Scottish engineers – Telford, Stevenson and MacColl. The latter refers to Sir Edward MacColl, who was instrumental in the development of Scotland’s hydro-electric resources and the electrification of the Scottish Highlands. This week's press coverage in Scotland has highlighted public opposition to the projects, which focuses on landscape and wildlife impacts, while also drawing attention to the jobs that would be created in northern Scotland.
If approved, the Moray Firth projects would represent a significant step forward for Scotland, which has lagged behind England in developing its offshore wind resources.
The Moray Firth planning applications also indicate that the UK’s Round 3 offshore wind programme is beginning to gather momentum. Taken together, the three applications represent the second Round 3 proposal to go before regulators. In July, Centrica and Dong submitted an application for an up to 2.2GW offshore wind farm in Round 3 Irish Sea zone, to be known as Rhiannon.