Offshore Wind Farm Project Boosted by Planning Consent for Onshore Grid Connection Works

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Mainstream Renewable Power’s proposed Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm project has reached a significant milestone with the granting of planning consent by East Lothian Council for the onshore works required to connect the wind farm to the National Grid.

East Lothian Council’s Planning Committee agreed on 18thJune to grant consent for the onshore works which include 12 kilometres of buried cable between Thorntonloch Beach, East Lothian, where the subsea cable is planned to reach shore, and Crystal Rig onshore wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills, where the grid connection would be made.  The consent includes a new substation to be constructed at Crystal Rig, adjacent to an existing substation.

Work on the onshore works is expected to start in 2014 with completion scheduled for 2016.  The cable will be buried for the full length of its route.

The combined onshore and offshore development represents an investment of approximately £1.3bn and is expected to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, both during construction and throughout its operation.

If consented, Neart na Gaoithe, 15.5 kilometres off the coast of Fife and in water depths of 45-55 metres, is expected to start generating renewable electricity from 2017.  With an installed capacity of 450MW, the project will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 325,000 homes (the number of homes in Edinburgh).

The offshore consent application was submitted to the Licensing Operations Team of Marine Scotland, the Scottish Government’s offshore planning directorate, in July 2012, with a decision expected later this year.  Of the offshore wind farm proposals currently under consideration by Marine Scotland, Neart na Gaoithe is the first to receive detailed planning consent for its grid connection works.

Mainstream Renewable Power recently submitted additional information to Marine Scotland detailing a reduction in the number of turbines it intends to site at Neart na Gaoithe.  A maximum of 90 turbines are now planned across the 100 square kilometre site, down from a previous maximum of 125.

Commenting on the onshore planning consent, David Sweenie, Offshore Manager Scotland for Mainstream Renewable Power, said:

“This is a major landmark for Neart na Gaoithe, allowing us to work towards ensuring that the onshore connection is ready for when the wind farm starts to generate power.  The whole project is of major significance for Scotland and will make a strong contribution towards Scotland achieving its 2020 renewable energy targets.  We can’t wait to get going.”