Ministers back plan for UK’s largest offshore wind farm

24 March 2003 – Plans to build Britain’s biggest offshore wind farm on the south- west coast of Scotland were passed by ministers last week, paving the way for a further number of renewable energy projects being considered by the Scottish Executive.

Robin Rigg wind farm, to be built on sandbanks in the Solway Firth will be Scotland’s first offshore wind farm. It will have 60 wind turbine generators and produce enough electricity to supply 180 000 houses . The proposals, by Offshore Energy Resources Limited, have angered local campaigners as well as fishing and yachting groups.

Announcing the decision to give the project the green light, Lewis Macdonald, the deputy enterprise minister, said it proved the Executive’s commitment to the environment and secured Scotland’s place as a key player in the development of the renewables sector in Europe.

He said: “The wind farm has the potential to cut our future carbon emissions through renewable energy and contribute significantly to the Scottish Climate Change Programme.

The wind farm is owned half by Offshore Energy Resources Ltd, a subsidiary of Babcock and Brown, and half by Solway Offshore Ltd, a subsidiary of TXU Europe Group PLC (in Administration) which agreed on March 14, 2002, to sell its interest in SOL to Babcock and Brown.

In an attempt to assuage the concerns of campaigners and locals opposed to the development, he said that conditions attached to the consent provided strict standards to “safeguard our natural heritage during and beyond the lifespan of the power station”.

Alasdair Morgan, the SNP MSP for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, welcomed the decision. He rejected claims by anti-wind farm groups that it would be a blight on the landscape and said: “A successful Robin Rigg project will have substantial benefits and will serve as the starting point for significantly greater development of all types of renewable energy, not just energy that comes from wind farms.

As legislation is required, a special Holyrood committee has been set up to examine the Robin Rigg Wind Farm Bill, which has cleared the first stage of its journey through parliament.

MSPs are expected to carry out detailed scrutiny of the bill after the election.

Scottish Natural Heritage, one of Scotland’s leading conservation bodies, published a report this week warning that more research is needed into the environmental impact of renewable technology on marine life.