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Application made for Orkney wind farm on uninhabited island

Orkney Islands Council (OIC) has handed in its planning application for a six-turbine wind farm on the uninhabited island of Faray.

The scheme is one of a trio of proposed wind farms which make up Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project.

The developments would help trigger the installation of a new interconnector between Orkney and the mainland.

An independent report commissioned by the council said the link, which has been conditionally approved by Ofgem, could be worth more than £800 annually for each islander over the next 45 years.

The two other proposed council-owned wind farms would be built at Quanterness in St Ola and Wee Fea in Hoy.

Faray is the last to reach the planning application submission stage.

The council bought Faray in January 2019 with a view to exploiting its “strategic development potential”.

It sits 10.5 miles north east of mainland Orkney and about 15.5m from Kirkwall.

The site boundary comprises the entire island, whose last residents are understood to have left in the late 1940s.

Ordnance Survey mapping suggests Faray boasts several “relic structures”, former farms and cottages, an old road and a burial ground.

A small jetty is located on the south-east coast.

The council has submitted documents to the local planning authority for the onshore parts of the development, including the turbines and associated infrastructure.

The turbines would have a blade-tip height of 490ft, providing a total generation capacity of 28 megawatts.

Marine licence applications were filed with Marine Scotland for work scopes like the construction of a new extended slipway and landing jetty.

As part of the process, an environmental impact assessment has been produced.

A 30-day consultation on the project is now up and running.

As with Hoy and Quanterness, a request will be made for Scottish ministers to “call in” the Faray application on “grounds of national importance”, giving them responsibility for green-lighting or rejecting the project.

The turbines are of a size never before seen on Orkney, with all parties having to weigh the impact of that with the potential for major benefit for the islands.