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Plan for wind farm the size of Edinburgh

The world’s biggest offshore wind farm will be spread over a patch of sea larger than the area covered by Edinburgh City Council, it has been revealed.

Fresh details of the giant development off the Moray Firth have been disclosed in an application lodged with ministers.

Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) wants to site up to 339 turbines 13 miles off the Caithness coast which would supply power to the equivalent of one million homes, or 40% of Scotland’s households.

The scheme would save more than one-third of the six million tonnes of coal used in power generation in Scotland every year and create thousands of jobs, according to the Portuguese and Spanish developers.

The £5 billion development would be spread across 72,808 acres, or 113 square miles.

There would be 189 to 339 turbines, depending on the capability of those on the market when they are installed.

Their maximum height to the tip of the blade would be 669ft.

They would provide the same capacity as all of Scotland’s 145 hydro schemes combined, providing power for one million of the 2.36 million homes in Scotland.

Power would be collected by up to eight offshore electrical platforms, before being sent to shore via a grid connection point at Peterhead Power Station, where there would two substations.

There are projected to be up to 2640 jobs installing the offshore generation infrastructure, the turbines and related areas; between 245 and 400 during the operations phase; and almost 600 in areas such as installing the transmission infrastructure, grid and substations.

If approved, the first turbines could be generating power by 2016. However, there have been concerns about the impact of the turbines on radar systems used in military and civil aviation.

The Ministry of Defence is reported to have said it would mean unacceptable interference to radar systems at RAF Lossiemouth. It would also be located close to where the two Tornado jets crashed last month, claiming the lives of three pilots.

But the developers say “various mitigation options are being investigated, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, to remove turbine radar returns”.

Some Caithness tourism operators are worried the visual impact will affect their firms.

And last night George Sorial, executive vice-president and counsel of the Trump Organisation, said: “This project, like all wind turbine proposals, is totally dependent on subsidies that will cost the taxpayer dearly.”

MORL was formed as a joint venture company owned 67% by EDP Renewables (EDPR) and 33% by Repsol with the aim of developing offshore wind generation in the outer Moray Firth.

Dan Finch, project director and managing director for EDPR UK, said: “By working in deeper water … we can take advantage of the excellent wind resource in the outer Moray Firth, and make a significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas production and reducing the need to burn fossil fuels.”

Ronnie Bonnar, managing director of Repsol UK, said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to public engagement, we will be staging exhibitions at various locations along the Moray coast.”

Director of energy and low carbon at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Calum Davidson, said: “HIE is pleased to see MORL reach this very important milestone in the development of their project.”