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21 May 2010

Scotland quietly approves 6.4GW of new offshore wind projects

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Scottish Government Strategic Environmental Assessment urges offshore wind developers to push ahead with new wind farm proposals "as soon as possible"

The Scottish Government has approved The Crown Estate's plan to build 6.4GW of offshore wind farms and identified 25 further sites for potential development by 2030, paving the way for a further boost to the UK's offshore wind industry beyond the high profile Round 3 projects.

The Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters, published yesterday states that the government's Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) found "no significant environmental impacts which cannot be avoided or reduced through... planning and development". It also recommended that all 10 proposed projects off the Scottish coastline should be developed "as soon as possible".

The Crown Estate signed exclusivity agreements for the 10 individual sites with developers last year; however, the positive results of the SEA will now allow the parties to ink commercial leases and push on with construction.

A spokeswoman from the Crown Estate told that it expected to sign agreements with all developers bar RWE npower Renewables, which has withdrawn from its partnership with SeaEnergy Renewables to build the 905MW Inch Cape wind farm in the Outer Firth of Tay.

However, she insisted that the Inch Cape project was still on track to be commissioned in 2018.

The draft plan also outlined proposals for 25 more sites that could be developed in Scottish Waters by 2030, subject to consultation.

Launching the consultation in Aberdeen yesterday, Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead urged all interested parties to participate in the consultation to help deliver the best options for offshore wind energy development.

"We are committed to delivering the necessary support for a pioneering energy industry in Scotland, while promoting a low carbon economy," he added.

In related news, the Scottish Government has today awarded £1.1m of grants to 16 projects through the Scottish Biomass Heat Scheme.


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