Offshore windfarm contractors urge Scottish Government to act

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An offshore windfarm

Contractors for one of the giant North Sea windfarm projects halted by a RSPB legal objection have called on the Scottish Government to urgently examine how the venture can be revived.

They say hundreds of skilled jobs are at stake along with “a sustainable new industry to help alleviate the downturn in the oil and gas industry.”

Scotland’s green energy sector was thrown into disarray after the bird protection charity successfully challenged consents for four major windfarms in the Tay and Forth Estuaries.

The multi-billion-pound Inch Cape, Seagreen and Neart na Gaoithe arrays would generate enough electricity to power several Edinburghs.

It would also support hundreds of jobs and provide a welcome boost for the beleaguered Scottish energy industry and economy.

Earlier this month Lord Stewart ruled that the Scottish Government’s original approvals for the projects were seriously flawed in procedure and substance.

He said they hadn’t consulted properly with the RSPB Scotland, who were concerned about the turbines’ danger to sea birds, and with statutory natural heritage bodies.

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said Scottish ministers would carefully consider the legal ruling but stressed that the Scottish Government remained strongly committed to offshore wind energy.

Now the main contractors for the Neart Na Gaoithe project have publicly voiced their concerns.

Jan Klaassen, business manager of Offshore Renewables; Mike Grainger, head of Global AC Grid Access for Siemens Transmission and Distribution; Clark Macfarlane, managing director of Siemens Wind Power & Renewables, and Ian Knowles, sales manager (Europe) of the Prysmian Group, have jointly written a letter which we publish in today’s Courier.

They state: “We have made advanced plans for significant works to be assigned to the local supply chain in Scotland.

“The project is expected to create hundreds of skilled jobs during its manufacturing, installation and operation phases, and support the creation of a sustainable new industry to help alleviate the downturn in the oil and gas industry that is being deeply felt.

“We see Scotland as having potential to be a leading international centre for offshore wind expertise to compete with major centres in mainland Europe.”

They claimed Scottish supply chain companies were excited at the prospects of involvement in the £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe scheme.

They added: “We trust now that Scottish ministers will urgently consider how best to address the issues raised by the Court ruling and to ensure that this major project for Scotland’s energy infrastructure is properly consented and brought into operation in a manner that addresses the concerns of the RSPB.”