A windfarm developer has asked the UK Government to give it a special legal exemption which could shield it from a ruling which threatens the industry.
The Berry Burn project – on Altyre Estate near Forres – will have a capacity of 78 megawatts and generate electricity for the national grid.
The Scottish Government approved the scheme in August 2009, despite receiving 140 objections about visual impact, noise factors, and the effect it could have on wildlife.
However, the Scottish renewable energy sector has been plunged into chaos by Court of Session ruling earlier this year, when Lady Clark of Calton decided that the developer of the Viking development off Shetland should have had an electricity licence in place before getting planning permission.
Holyrood is appealing the decision, which could pose problems for the wider renewables industry as other developers may have been granted consent without such a licence.
But last night the firm behind the 29- turbine Berry Burn scheme applied to the UK Government for an licence exemption.
Schemes which generate less than 100MW may be entitled to an exemption, should the Secretary of State for Energy, Ed Davey, approve.
Papers seen by the Press and Journal show that he is ready to accept the application.
“Taking account of the level of the electrical power that could be exported to the total system in Great Britain by the Berry Burn onshore windfarm, the secretary of state has provisionally concluded that the connection of this plant to the system would not adversely affect network operation and, therefore, that it would not be appropriate to require BerryBurnWind Farm Limited to obtain an electricity generation licence in respect of the station,” the Department for Energy and Climate Change said.
“He is, therefore, proposing to make the exemption.”
Developer Statkraft was unable to comment yesterday.
But the firm says it believes the project will strengthen its position in the UK energy market and contribute to Scotland’s ambitious objectives for growth i n renewable power.
Work on the windfarm started earlier this year and it is hoped it will be completed by early 2014.
The windfarm will have an installed capacity of 66.7MW.
It will provide enough electricity to power 43,500 homes, the firm said.
Enercon is supplying the turbines, each of which will have an output of 2.3MW.
Statkraft’s total investment during construction is expected to amount to around £70million.
Statkraft has been developing the project with partner Duke Energy since 2004, and has since acquired Duke Energy’s interest in the project.
It now fully owns the project company, Catamount Energy.
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