The Highland Council Approves Onshore Plans for West of Orkney Windfarm

The Highland Council has greenlit the onshore plans for the West of Orkney Windfarm, a significant offshore wind project off Scotland’s northern coast. The council’s North Planning Applications Committee approved the onshore application for planning permission in principle on June 4, marking a crucial step forward for the multi-billion-pound project.

This approval includes the development of underground cables and electrical infrastructure essential for connecting the two-gigawatt windfarm to the national transmission network. Construction is slated to begin in 2027, with the windfarm expected to start generating electricity by 2029, potentially providing green energy for around two million homes.

The West of Orkney Windfarm, which secured development rights from Crown Estate Scotland in 2022, will feature up to 125 turbines on fixed foundations. It is being developed by a joint venture of Corio Generation, TotalEnergies, and the Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG).

The onshore application outlines cable landfalls on the north Caithness coast, a substation at Spittal in Caithness, and approximately 25km of underground cables connecting to the substation. The project team engaged extensively with local communities, organizing 33 public events and meeting over 2,400 residents to incorporate community feedback into the design.

Jack Farnham, Development Manager of the West of Orkney Windfarm, expressed gratitude to local residents and community representatives for their input, emphasizing the importance of the onshore connection for exporting clean electricity nationwide. He also highlighted the project’s commitment to engaging with local stakeholders throughout the process.

The windfarm aims for 60% of its development to be carried out by UK businesses, with 40% based in Scotland, fostering skills development and creating opportunities in Caithness, Sutherland, and Orkney.

The project has already supported various initiatives in northern Scotland, including a £1 million research program by EMEC in Orkney and a £1.2 million education initiative led by UHI.

The West of Orkney Windfarm is still awaiting a decision on its offshore consent from the Scottish Government. The application, submitted in October last year, is under review, with a final decision pending from Scottish Ministers.

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