Plans to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Tiree in the inner Hebrides have been dropped by developers.
Following detailed technical and environmental site studies, ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) has confirmed that they will not be taking forward their lease option to develop the Argyll Array offshore wind farm in the near future.
The company has stated that the project may be viable to reconsider as offshore wind technology develops in the longer term, but estimates that will not be within the next decade.
ScottishPower Renewables has been working on the Argyll Array project since 2009.
A review of studies from the site over the past 12 months resulted in SPR deciding the project was not viable.
Presence of hard rock coupled with “challenging wave conditions” could impact construction.
It was also found that a large number of basking sharks, which continue to be studied by environmental groups, had a significant presence in the area.
Jonathan Cole, head of offshore wind at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “We believe it is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, it has the some of the best wind conditions of any offshore zone in the UK.
“However, it is our view that the Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the short term.
“As cost reductions continue to filter through the offshore wind industry, and as construction techniques and turbine technology continues to improve, we believe that the Argyll Array could become a viable project in the long term.
“The rate of progress in development of foundation and installation technology has been slower than anticipated. The current outlook for offshore wind deployment in the UK suggests this will not significantly improve in the short term.
“This supports the view that it could take ten to 15 years for the required technology improvements to be available for this project. The Crown Estate agrees with our findings and development work will cease on the project with immediate effect.
“This will give ScottishPower Renewables the opportunity to fully construct the West of Duddon Sands project with DONG Energy, and continue development work on the East Anglia Zone with Vattenfall.”
The decision was welcomed by animal welfare groups. Aedán Smith, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Planning and Development said: “The Argyll Array was always going to be a very difficult offshore wind farm to develop.
“The site, immediately next to the Island of Tiree, is internationally important for a range of marine wildlife.
“In particular, very large numbers of great northern diver and basking shark use the site and could have been affected by the development. Rare species such as corncrake, and Greenland white-fronted goose also make their home on the island each year and fly across the site on their annual migration.
“Assessment of the likely environmental impacts of the project was not yet complete but may ultimately have been so great on their own as to stop the project proceeding.
“Being a responsible developer, Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) recognised this extreme importance for wildlife early on and worked closely with RSPB Scotland throughout the development of the project. ”
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