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No objection to offshore windfarm cable plan

Councillors have not objected to the possibility of subsea cables linked to a massive windfarm some 50 kilometres off the East Lothian coastline coming ashore in the county.

Up to 213 wind turbines, measuring 215m in height, are planned for Inch Cape site, which is east of the Firth of Tay.

Council official Ian Glen explained why the site, which is closer to the Angus coastline than East Lothian’s, could be linked via transmission cables to a site at Cockenzie.

He described connections to the National Grid as being like “gold dust”, with developers often left facing a several-year wait.

A Cockenzie connection has been identified primarily for its ability to accommodate the capacity of the wind farm without the need for significant enhancement works.

The connection would then allow the export of up to 1,050 megawatts (MW).

According to the report before councillors: “The Environment Statement (ES) states the project is expected to generate around 3,000 gigawatts (GW) of electricity per annum, which is approximately nine per cent of current (2010) Scottish annual electricity consumption.”

An “export cable corridor”, measuring 1.4 kilometres at its widest point and 250m in shallower waters, could also be created.

The development would also include cables on land, with a substation as well.

No definite size was given for the structure, with two options given – either 195m wide by 105m long and 25m high, or, 210m wide by 210m long and 20m high.

Planner Jean Squires said: “No site has yet been identified for the substation, consequently the route for the onshore section of the cables is not identified yet either.

“The substation will clearly be a very substantial structure.”

The council official said the visual impact of the turbines would be “limited” by distance and the number of days in which they could be seen due to “atmospheric conditions”.

Ms Squires added: “It will nonetheless be visible from parts of the area, some of the time.”

Conservative councillor Michael Veitch felt it was vital to look at the potential loss of the seascape in the area.

He said: “It is important to mention the importance of the seascape for tourists.

“The John Muir Way is going to be from Dunbar to Musselburgh and to Helensburgh and we’ve had The Open golf tournament as well.”