Vattenfall appeals EOWDC snub

Vattenfall has appealed to the Scottish government to overturn the rejection of a proposed onshore substation critical to its Aberdeen Bay offshore project, demonstrating its willingness to fight for the wind farm despite recent setbacks.

The 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Demonstration Centre (EOWDC) was consented last spring by the Scottish government. But in October the onshore substation was rejected by local councillors in the face of vocal opposition from residents in the village of Blackdog, 3km to the north of Aberdeen.

The project, intended to demonstrate the viability of several next-generation offshore wind turbine models, has also been adamantly opposed by US tycoon Donald Trump.

In making their appeal to the pro-renewables Scottish government in Edinburgh, Vattenfall and its partners today insisted that the proposed substation is “consistent with local planning policy”.

Blackdog is “the most appropriate site for the onshore works”, says Andy Paine, head of offshore wind development for Vattenfall UK.

The EOWDC is being jointly developed by Vattenfall and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, along with consortium partner Technip.

Paine claims the developers have addressed local concerns by gathering expert evidence, concluding that any health risks associated with asbestos found at the site are “very low”.

We "have made every effort to engage and work closely with the local community to assure them that finding low level traces of asbestos in the ground is not unusual for a brownfield site as this,” he says.

Vattenfall argues that the EOWDC is vital to so-called Energetica initiative, whose backers hope to transform the 50km stretch between Aberdeen and Peterhead into a hotbed of industrial activity and innovation for Scotland's offshore renewables and hydrocarbon sectors.

Last month, following the substation’s rejection, Vattenfall delayed the EOWDC’s planned grid-connection by two years until 2017, raising the prospect that the project may be irrelevant to some next-generation turbines by the time it comes on line.  

However, Vattenfall and its partners today insisted that the project remains “strategically important to accelerating the development of the offshore wind industry and demonstrating next-generation technology”.