Orkney Islands Council is to investigate an additional two sites for potential community wind farms in the county - to add to the project already under investigation on Hoy.
The new projects under consideration are located at Faray, in the North Isles, and at Quanterness in St Ola.
‘Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project’ could generate significant income and community benefit for Orkney. All profit would stay in the islands, enabling the Council to preserve and enhance key services that local people value and depend upon and providing a foundation for communities to drive transformational projects of their own.
The developments will also allow the Council to join other local developers in making a meaningful contribution to a Needs Case for a new interconnector for Orkney, thereby substantially supporting the vital renewable energy industry in Orkney, including future development of the marine energy sector.
The wider economic development value of a new cable to Orkney could be highly significant, particularly if a substantial proportion of local ownership can be secured - which will help employment and income remain in the county.
Plans for a development of up to around 28MW in Hoy were announced to the local community last year - with sites for a development of up to 32MW on the island of Faray and up to 24MW on shoreside farmland at Quanterness outside Kirkwall now also being investigated.
The proximity of the project at Quanterness to Kirkwall could also enable a separate private wire network project in which the Council could directly supply electricity to its own buildings as a means to reduce costs.
Public engagement events have been organised for Kirkwall, Eday and Rendall over the coming fortnight. Proposed plans for the developments will be on display at these, with Elected Members and Council Officers on hand to discuss the plans with members of the public.
The event details are as follows:
Thursday 2 May – Kirkwall Town Hall and Community Centre – 12.00 to 17.00 and 19.00 to 21.00.
Tuesday 7 May – Eday Heritage Centre – 12.00 to 16.00 and 19.30 to 21.30
Wednesday 8 May – Rendall Community Centre – 12.30 to 17.00 and 19.00 to 21.00.
An event will also be held in Westray, with the date yet to be confirmed.
The proposed Quanterness site has the potential capacity for six 150m blade tip height turbines.
The site on Faray has enough space for up to eight 150m blade tip height turbines.
The current proposal at the third site in Hoy is to erect seven turbines compared to the 30 presented in the original plans.
The proposals for each site are expected to evolve as further site investigation work and consultation is undertaken. Site investigations, including bird and telecommunications studies, will be ongoing at all three sites.
The intention is for the Council to reach planning permission stage by the end of 2020 ensuring all views and issues are fully explored and considered before any final decisions are made. Proposals for how the applications will be determined are currently being considered.
Councillor James Stockan is Leader of Orkney Islands Council. He said: “It is vital that the Council now takes an active ‘developer approach’ to energy projects in our islands. Not only does this allow us to maximise the resources available to us in the islands to support services and projects for local people, but it also allows us to contribute significantly and in a meaningful way to allow our world-renowned local energy industry to survive and thrive through a new grid connection.
“Our strategy is one that meets uncertainty head-on. The final details of proposals are by no means set in stone whilst investigations are carried out at the three sites, nor are all three sites guaranteed planning permission – and of course we also wish to take into account public opinion on the developments. Widening the net and moving to investigate three separate sites, allows us a degree of flexibility in the make-up of the final outcome.”
Notes to editors
Orkney Islands Council took ownership of the islands of Faray, Holm of Faray and Red Holm in January having purchased them for £355,000 after they were offered for sale on the open market.
In order to secure an improved grid connection for Orkney and enable new energy projects in the islands, Scottish and Southern Energy Networks must agree on a ‘Needs Case’ for the new connection with the electricity market regulator Ofgem. Scottish and Southern Energy Networks proposed to Ofgem that, in order to justify the new cable, 70 megawatts of generation would require to be signed up for a grid connection by the end of 2019. Ofgem disagreed with this and is of the opinion that 135MW of generation is required. Although negotiation is ongoing, with an announcement expected shortly, it is highly likely that whatever the final decision, the Council will need to have projects in development in order to reach the required number of megawatts to trigger a new cable.
Amended plans for a potential Council-owned wind farm in Hoy were presented to the local community in early January. The current proposal is to erect seven turbines compared to the 30 presented in the original plans. The turbines have also been made taller, moved further away from local homes and have been focused towards the north of the site. The plans were amended following consideration of the site’s proximity to the national scenic area and residential properties, bird sensitivities and the location of communication masts in the area. The site the Council has been looking at lies at and to the south of Wee Fea, the hill behind Lyness which contains underground wartime oil tanks.