Planners urge Moray Firth offshore backing

Highland councillors have been advised to support plans for the 1.5GW Moray Firth project, some 22km off the coast of Caithness, Scotland.

Members of the North Planning Applications Committee are set to discuss the up-to-339-turbine development at their meeting in Inverness next Tuesday. Planning officials are recommending they “raise no objections” to the £4.5bn ($6.8bn) project which would cover 114 sq km.

Moray Firth is a joint venture between Portugal's EDPR and Spain's Repsol Nuevas Energias.

Developer Moray Offshore Renewables says the project could create hundreds of local jobs and provide electricity for around one million homes.

The council is a consultee, with final consent for the development controlled by Scottish Government regulator Marine Scotland.

The local authority says it has only received one objection to the plan, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who are concerned over the potential impact to seabirds. Marine Scotland has received eight objections, five of which come from the Highland area.

The final number and size of the turbines has still to be finally determined, with the parameters ranging from 189 turbines at a height of 204m, to 339 turbines at a height of 162 metres. 

The plan involves collecting power at eight offshore electrical sub-stations, before being sent ashore by cable to Fraserburgh. If it gets the go-ahead, work would start in 2015 with completion by 2020.

The company was granted the rights in 2010 by the Crown Estate to develop the wind farm.