Potential for income generating wind farm to be looked at further by OIC
The possibility of creating a large scale wind farm as an important source of income for Orkney is to be investigated fully by the Council.
As the local authority prepares for a major fall in Government funding in the years ahead, the move has been described as entrepreneurial and forward thinking.
An initial study commissioned last year looked at four potential sites, two of which have since been ruled out as unsuitable for a development of this kind.
The Council’s Policy and Resources Committee met this week to consider the findings of this initial feasibility phase and asked for further work to be carried out.
Following this, the other sites’ potential as the location for a substantial wind farm will be looked at in more detail in discussion with the landowners.
These are privately owned and their location cannot be disclosed at this stage for reasons of commercial confidentiality. If other sites are put forward by landowners as potentially suitable, these would be investigated as well.
In addition to inviting landowners to come forward with potential sites, the next phase of work will also involve drawing up detailed proposals for a large scale wind farm.
A community consultation on these draft proposals will then take place, to gather feedback from the public, local businesses and other organisations.
Council Leader James Stockan said: “We are being innovative, entrepreneurial and forward thinking in looking at a project of this kind.
“The Council’s income from Government is expected to fall considerably over the next few years, at a time when demand for many of our services continues to grow.
“A funding gap of around £12 million is predicted, which could result in a range of cuts to services unless we can find substantial new sources of income.
“A large scale wind farm has the potential to contribute significantly to the funding the Council needs to preserve and enhance the key services people in our community value and depend upon.”
Councillor Stockan added: “A wind farm would require new grid links to the Scottish mainland, which would also support the further development of marine energy projects in our local waters.
“It would be remiss of us if we failed to fully assess a project of this kind, which could be of enormous benefit to our community.
“We are also well aware that wind farm developments attract a range of views – and we will listen to all views expressed during a comprehensive consultation exercise.”
A further report on the next phase of work is expected to be presented to Councillors early next year.