In Scottish Power Renewables’ December update, the company announces that it has ‘put the development of the Argyll Array wind farm project on hold for 12 months’.
SPR goes on to say that during this period, ‘the company, as a responsible developer, will work with others to study the results of initial detailed environmental studies of the site’.
The bulletin aloso says that ‘The pause in the project programme will also enable the company to monitor the offshore wind industry’s progress in relation to turbine, foundation and support vessel technology, with a view to fully developing technical solutions that are able to deal with the physical conditions at the windfarm site’.
This adds up to specific practical consequences:
• ‘all development work on the project will stop at the end of 2012′;
• ‘the position will be reviewd at the end of 2013′;
• ‘the commitment already made in respect of the RESET FUND will, however, continue to be fufilled in 2013′.
The bulletin promises ‘further detail in my next update on the continuation of the RESET support during the project pause’.
This seems a contradictory position.
The announcement is for a 12 month project pause – from the end of 21012 to the end of 2013. Commitments already made in respect of the RESET support fund are to ‘continue to be fulfilled in 2013′.
So why is more information necessary on ‘the continuation of the RESET support during the project pause’.
Response from the No Tiree Array campaign
The highly effective No Tiree Array campaign are, rightly, not sure what to make of this announcement.
Since SPR had already mothballed its planning application for the Argyll Array off Tiree [aka the Tiree Array] until a few years after the end of 2013, it is puzzling why it needed to make any announcement at all.
It may be that, with the Scottish Government effectively stalling everything remotely controversial and likely to feed a negative vote in the October 2014 independence referendum, SPR are feeling that they have been left out on a limb by the government and are upping the ante with this announcement.
If the government is to meet its target of supplying 100% of Scotland’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, the claimed outout of the Argyll / Tiree Array – whether located as presently planned or not, will be vital.
But the No Tiree Array campaign has been a markedly successful one, following the win by the similarly able Kintyre Offshore Wind Action Group campaign.
If the Scottish Government were to ram through this project in this location, before October 2014 and against the weight of research, argument and public opinion – it would be widely inflammatory and would certainly 0- and rightly – impact on that vote. Why? Because it would demonstrate a Stalinism already present, already of concern – and a consolidation of that direction of travel that no one sensible could support.
Furthermore, the work SNH has done in surveying the habits of the Great Northern Diver and the basking sharks around Tiree has thrown up serious environmental issues in wildlife and marine area protection.
SPR may be signalling a potential retreat and, in doing so when there is no apparent need for it to do so, it may be sending an ultimatum to the Scottish Government to give them comfort on the future of the project – or lose it.
Alternatively, the reference to its intentions to spend the year’s pause in monitoring ‘the offshore wind industry’s progress in relation to turbine, foundation and support vessel technology’ just might indicate an exploration of deeper water locations less utterly destructive of Tiree, its tourism industry, its local climate, the health of its residents and its dark sky park ambitions.
The No Tiree Array campaign says: ‘NTA is asking SPR what exactly this announcement means.
‘Does it mean a further [Ed: our emphasis]12 month delay in any planning application?
‘Does it mean SPR is considering abandoning the project?
‘NTA is asking but will SPR respond?’
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