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Offshore windfarm in doubt as firm cuts jobs  

Credit:  By Ryan Crighton | The Press and Journal | 16 March 2013 | www.pressandjournal.co.uk ~~

The company behind a proposed windfarm off the Aberdeen coast has announced plans to axe projects and cut 2,500 jobs.

But Vattenfall is refusing to comment on whether its controversial Aberdeen Bay scheme is now under threat.

Last night, business leaders called for the firm – which will make cuts of £450million over the next two years – to come clean on the future of the project.

The Swedish company has a 75% controlling stake inAberdeen Offshore Windfarm Ltd – the consortium bidding to build the 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC).

Announcing that 2,500 jobs will go by the end of 2014, Vattenfall CEO Oystein Loseth said the company needed to prepare itself for falling electricity demands in coming years.

“This new reality requires efforts in further improving our efficiency and strengthening our financial position,” he said.

He warned that Vattenfall now has to adapt to a greatly changed market situation through divestments, a decreased investment plan, staff reductions and asset sales.

But the company refused to comment yesterday on whether the EOWDC was part of its review.

Spokesman Jason Ormiston said: “We do not comment on market speculation about our investments or share holdings.

“But we are always looking to optimise the performance of our portfolio.”

Asked whether the EOWC was under review, he said: “I’m not saying it is or isn’t. I’m not commenting.” The Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) – which also has a stake in the project – declined to comment.

Scottish ministers are due to rule on the £230million EOWDC in the coming months.

Tom Smith, chairman of business development body Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (Acsef), said the north-east needs “clarity” on what the future holds for such a key project. “The EOWDC is a project which Acsef supports and it is at a critical stage with regards to planning permission,” he said.

“If there is a problem with the project, then all partners need to know so something can be done to resolve it. So we would welcome some clarity from Vattenfall regarding the position.” The project is being vehemently opposed by Donald Trump, who is in the middle of creating a golf resort nearby. He has vowed to hold the project up in the courts if it wins planning approval.

Trump International spokesman George Sorial said the job cuts raised serious questions about the firm’s finances.

“If I was a member of the Scottish Government, or living in a community where Vattenfall had an application to build a windfarm or a wind turbine, I would be asking some serious questions about the company’s finances,” he said.

EOWDC spokesman Iain Todd has said there is a “strong case” for the windfarm.

The Ministry of Defence and air navigation service Nats had both opposed the scheme, but agreed to lift their objections on condition that the turbines – up to 640ft – would not interfere with radar.

Source:  By Ryan Crighton | The Press and Journal | 16 March 2013 | www.pressandjournal.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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