Scotland’s Seabed landlord temporarily halts leasing

Crown Estate Scotland has pushed back the application deadline for its ScotWind leasing process to review a new fee structure adopted in England and Wales

Crown Estate Scotland has said it will pause its leasing process for now. Picture: Vattenfall

Announced yesterday (11 February), the country’s seabed landlord said the decision to review an option-fee structure — backed by the Scottish government — would ensure that Scotland's offshore wind leasing process attracted the most sustainable and cost-competitive projects.

The review is set to be completed by 24 March this year.

But not everyone was pleased.

The chief executive of trade body Scottish Renewables said developers would be left “disappointed” and “intensely frustrated”.

“Developing an offshore wind farm does not begin and end with deploying turbines in the sea, and our members have already invested many thousands of hours, and many millions of pounds, preparing to bid into the ScotWind leasing process,”Claire Mack said in a statement.

“It is vital now that the scope of this review is as focused as possible, and that any delay to the overall process is minimised in order to reduce uncertainty for industry,” she added.

According to Mack, the ScotWind leasing process is already 14 months behind schedule and a further delay is unwelcome news.

In a press statement, Crown Estate Scotland said the decision to pause its leasing process was brought about by the latest wind leasing auction for sites in waters around England and Wales.

The first-of-its-kind bidding process in England and Wales set "option fees", which developers must pay into annually — up to a maximum of ten years — until companies finalise their plans to build any new wind farms.

In a press statement, the chair of Crown Estate Scotland, Amanda Bryan, said: “The unprecedented outcome of the Crown Estate Round Four process has, overnight, changed the market dynamics around offshore wind leasing, and could have significant implications for offshore wind development in Scotland. 

“It is only right that we consider the implications of this new situation in relation to ScotWind leasing.”

She added:  “Our team will now work on the details of how these latest developments can be properly reflected in the ScotWind Leasing option structure, and we’ll ensure our registered applicants, and the wider sector, continue to be kept engaged and informed.”