Highland councillors are being advised to back the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the Scottish coast, with 339 turbines sited in the Moray Firth.
Planning officials are recommending in a report to the North Planning Applications Committee to “raise no objection” to the proposed £4.5billion development, which would cover 114 square miles off Caithness.
Developers Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd say the project could create hundreds of jobs and provide electricity for a million homes.
It would also be a major boost to the Scottish Government’s target of generating 100 per cent of the country’s demand from renewables by the end of the decade.
But critics say the 339 turbines, some reaching 670ft above sea level, would be a blot on the landscape.
The council is a consultee, with final consent for the development controlled by the Scottish Government regulator Marine Scotland. Unlike onshore development, if the council decides not to support the development, there would be no automatic Public Local Inquiry.
The local authority says it has only received one objection to the plan, from the RSPB, who are worried about the potential impact to seabirds.
Marine Scotland has received eight objections, five of which come from the Highland area. According to background papers, none of the 12 community councils consulted, which included Helmsdale, Brora, Golspie and Dornoch, responded.
Applicants are Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd, a joint venture between Spanish/Portuguese firm EDP Renewables and Spanish oil and gas company Repsol Nuevas Energias.
The committee meets next week to debate the application.