In the Solway Firth, a planned extension to Scotland’s first offshore wind farm is facing opposition from local residents amid fears the coastline could be littered by hundreds of turbines.
The proposals for Robin Rigg, put forward by E.ON UK, would increase the size of the existing 60-turbine farm by a further 100 turbines. When it was built last April, it was the largest constructed off the British coast.
Campaigners believe that wind power is not necessarily the most productive way of meeting Scotland’s energy needs.
“There are key questions around the level of subsidy, level of efficiency and the need to provide back-up cover when the wind does not blow,” said Julian Stanning, a campaigner who lives in Rockliffe, near Dalbeattie.
He said that some studies had suggested that back-up power of 90 per cent is needed to support wind farms at times when the wind does not blow.
“If I thought that was really the answer, I would happily live with it,” said Mr Stanning. “I’d say ‘We need the power and that’s going to make a huge difference to it’ – I’d just go with it. What I find so frustrating is that I really don’t think it’s the answer.”
The proposed extension is close to another planned farm in Wigtown Bay.
“We are concerned about both these developments and also that, beyond these, the medium and long-term options could see much of the Solway filled with turbines,” added Mr Stanning.
It its response to a consultation on its Draft Plan for Offshore Wind Energy in Scottish Territorial Waters, the Scottish Government last week said it recognised opposition to the projects.
The report, which was initially released in May, recommended that ten sites should be developed as quickly as possible.
“There is extensive and direct regional and local opposition to the Solway, Wigtown and Kintyre sites,” the Scottish Government’s response said. “Most of these concerns arise from the visual impacts from the developments, their size and proximity to the coast, and their perceived implications for local tourism sectors.”
But in the report, some regions, which have not been earmarked by the Scottish Government as ideal locations for offshore wind development, have put forward their case to become involved.
In its response, Orkney Islands Council expressed disappointment that development around the islands was discounted within the draft plan, citing the importance of the renewables industry to the local economy.
“In the Western Isles and Orkney, respondents including the local councils are seeking to progress more development in the short term than is currently proposed in the plan,” added the Scottish Government response.
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