Offshore: Developers join forces in Scotland - Co-operation for studies

The developers behind four offshore wind farms planned for the outer Forth and Tay estuaries off the east coast of Scotland have agreed to work together on impact assessment studies and public consultation work. The four projects, all within the Scottish 12 nautical mile limit, have a combined capacity of 2.47 GW.

Exclusivity agreements to develop the sites were awarded to the developers by the Crown Estate earlier this year, allowing them to conduct site surveys and work towards submitting applications for building consent. From north to south, the projects are the 905 MW Inch Cape wind farm being developed by RWE npower renewables and SeaEnergy Renewables; Airtricity and Fluor's 700 MW Bell Rock; Mainstream Renewable Power's 450 Neart na Gaoithe; and Fred Olsen Renewables' 415 MW Forth Array.

The companies are collaborating on studies looking at potential impacts on fisheries, shipping, birds and marine mammals, as well as at seabed conditions. The companies have already formed a working group, which they say will co-ordinate their developments in a manner that is sensitive to the environmental and socio-economic features of the area.

The Forth and Tay Offshore Wind Working Group has already held meetings with potential developers of the adjacent round 3 Firth of Forth site, which could accommodate a further 3.7 GW of wind capacity. The group has so far agreed a common approach to bird studies, commissioned initial studies of shipping and is to undertake a study of cumulative impacts. The developers say consent could be granted to individual sites as early as mid-2012, with the projects constructed and commissioned between 2014 and 2018.

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