Off-shore wind farm bid submitted
THE company behind plans for a major offshore wind farm which would be visible from the county coast has submitted an application for consent to Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team.
Mainstream Renewable Power proposes to construct the 450MW Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) wind farm in the Forth estuary, about 30 kilometres north of Torness.
The application, which is open to consultation until September 10, marks a significant step towards delivering the project which is planned for construction in 2015.
An application will be lodged with East Lothian Council later this year for plans to install a transmission cable route from Thorntonloch to the Lammermuir hills, which would connect the wind farm to the National Grid.
The application submitted to Marine Scotland - part of the Scottish Government - follows a three-year process of detailed stakeholder consultation and is for a development consisting of 64-125 wind turbines.
The wind farm would deliver 450MW of electricity - enough to power 325,000 homes in a city the size of Edinburgh or up to 3.7 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand - when fully operational.
Mainstream aims to reach financial close in 2013 and be fully operational by 2016.
The development represents an investment of £1.4bn and is expected to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs both during construction and during its anticipated 25 years in operation.
Andy Kinsella, chief executive of Mainstream Renewable Power's offshore business, said: "This is a major milestone in the delivery of this offshore wind farm.
"With over 7,500MW of offshore wind farms in development in the UK and Germany, this demonstrates Mainstream's ability in selecting the best sites, developing to a high standard and delivering to challenging milestones."
He added: "This project is of strategic importance to Scotland; not only will it supply a significant percentage of the country's electricity demand, it will also help to deliver Scotland's and the UK's renewable energy targets in advance of 2020."
In January, Mainstream released details of proposed works to connect NnG to the National Grid at Crystal Rig II - a 60-turbine wind farm in the Lammermuirs which straddles East Lothian and the Scottish Borders.
It proposes to export electricity from NnG via two marine cables, which would come ashore at Thorntonloch Beach, south-east of Dunbar, near Torness Power Station, and travel about 12 kilometres to Crystal Rig II.
The firm plans to lay the cable under the East Coast Main Line railway and the A1 - further details on the construction method will be included in the planning application.
However, a Mainstream spokesman said: "All the works are being designed to minimise disruption and we don't envisage any closures of either the East Coast Main Line or the A1 at this stage.
"However, clearly the plans will need to be signed off by both Transport Scotland and Network Rail."
Dunbar Harbour could be set to benefit from NnG, after being included in documentation as one of a number of ports which could provide a base for small craft to maintain the wind farm on a daily basis.
The criteria by which ports will be assessed has not yet been set down, but Mainstream has said it supports efforts by Dunbar Harbour Trust to upgrade the harbour - turning it into an all-weather, all-tide port.
Stuart Turnbull, chair of the trust, has reassured harbour users that "renewables will never replace fishing at Dunbar, the trust will not allow it, and Mainstream recognise this".
He added: "The development will mean more fishing not less, more space for fishing boats not less as the support vessels will be moored outside the existing harbour at the new breakwater."
Meanwhile, Councillor Willie Innes, East Lothian Council leader, is keen to see the county benefit from the wind farm.
He said: "There was a lost opportunity in securing community benefit through the existing wind farms that have appeared in East Lothian, so if East Lothian can benefit financially [from NnG], we'll certainly be looking at that.
"We are determined to make sure East Lothian residents get a share of any financial benefits of a project that goes on."
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Aug 2, 23:01
"The wind farm would deliver 450MW of electricity". The windfarm has a potential capacity of 450MW and will rarely achieve this figure. Average output is nearer 30%, so expect more likely 135MW average output although once we pay the additional subsidy from our electricity bills the company will be paid nearer to 60% output. Good job if you can get it.
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