Swedish island looks to UK to overcome offshore resistance

SWEDEN: A municipality in south-west Sweden planning a pioneer offshore wind farm has visited one of the UK's latest projects to learn how to overcome potential obstructions.

The 60MW Scroby Sands project is located off the Norfolk coast
The 60MW Scroby Sands project is located off the Norfolk coast

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Ockero, an island of 12,500 people that gives its name to an archipelego in the Kattegat between Sweden and Denmark just north of Gothernburg, wants to take advantage of government incentives to build an 18-turbine wind farm next to one already approved at neighbouring Kungalv.

The combined project would consist of 32 turbines sited two kilometres offshore.

The proposed site avoids shipping lanes and a nature reserve but has attracted opposition from local crayfish fishermen who said it would disturb fishing grounds. Other objectors also said the wind farm would be visually intrusive and damage the island’s appeal to tourists.

As a result, the island decided to visit the 60MW Scroby Sands project on England’s east coast. The project was launched in 2004 and has helped bring skills and facilities to the Norfolk coast.

Chairman of the executive board of Ockero municipality Arne Lernhag said he became aware of the Scroby Sands offshore wind project as a participant in the EU’s North Sea Power Cluster offshore wind-research project.

"When we realised Scroby Sands had attracted similar objections and was a similar project to the one we are proposing in Sweden we decided on a fact-finding trip to the UK organised through through Powercluster and hosted by the Orbis Energy centre in Lowestoft," he said.

"One of the key messages was how to communicate the economic benefits of a wind-farm development to the local community, which is what happened at Scroby Sands," added Lernhag. "In the case of Ockero, where the islands are served by infrequent ferries, we are suggesting to the community that a direct benefit from having a substantial offshore wind farm nearby would be investment in improved communications."

Lerhag said that research undertaken at another Swedish wind farm in inshore waters near the Orsund Bridge which links Malmo with Copenhagen in Denmark showed that after initial disruption during the construction phase, the fishery habitat around wind turbines had actually been seen to improve.

If local authority approval for the wind farm is granted in November, Ockero will then seek an agreement with a developer.

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