Angus Council has stepped back from a formal objection to changes for a £2 billion offshore wind farm which will see turbines rise to almost 300 metres off the county’s coast.
The Inch Cape Offshore Limited (ICOL) scheme is one of three multi-billion pound turbine arrays proposed for the outer Firths of the Tay and Forth in a zone stretching from around ten miles into the North Sea.
Alterations to the previously consented scheme will see the number of turbines drop from 110 to 72, but their hub height will rise from 129 metres to more than 160 metres above LAT (lowest astronomical tide), with maximum turbine heights rising from 172m to 250m, or 820 feet.
The local authority has said concerns remain over the array’s “significant impacts” on the historic Bell Rock lighthouse, 11 miles off the coast of Arbroath, as well as the cumulative effect of the Neart Na Gaoithe and Seagreen windfarms also in the pipeline.
In a fresh consultee response over the Inch Cape changes, council planning leader Kate Cowey has called for a “co-ordinated approach” which would avoid larger turbines being stacked in the foreground of the view visible from Angus.
It states: “Whilst the development proposes to reduce the overall number of turbines the respective increase in tip height and rotor diameter will invariably make the individual turbines more visible.
“The night time viewpoints confirm that the lighting would be viewed in close association and at a greater height to the light on the Bell Rock lighthouse.
“Further consideration requires to be given to this matter in order to ensure an appropriate technical solution is identified and if this is the case the associated effects would be unlikely to be unacceptable.”
The response adds: “We would stress that a key cumulative consideration is the relative height and design of the three different off-shore wind farm developments.
“A level of consistency is important to prevent the collective view becoming visually inconsistent or distorting seascape perspective by having turbines of noticeably different sizes within the same view.
“The proposal for Inch Cape potentially proposes the use of 291m high turbines. This scale of turbine would be greater in height than the potential 208m high turbines proposed by Neart Na Gaoithe.
“This would lead to a situation whereby larger turbines are located in the foreground with smaller turbines in the background.
“Although this proposal is not unacceptable in its own right, in order to avoid a confusing and poorly harmonised visual image a co-ordinated approach to the finalised height of each development should be considered.”
The Inch Cape development recently took a significant step forward when ICOL said it had entered into agreement with three companies to deliver the export cable infrastructure needed to connect the array to the power grid.
Up to 1,900 full-time equivalent jobs are expected to be created during the three-year construction period, providing a projected £240 million per annum boost to the economy.