Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Green light for Trump row wind farm

The Scottish Government has approved plans for an offshore wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen

A controversial offshore wind project off the coast of Aberdeen has been approved by the Scottish Government.

The 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre is bitterly opposed by US businessman Donald Trump, who has complained that it will the spoil the view from his nearby golf course.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government's Energy Minister, said: "Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity for Scotland - an opportunity to build up new industries and to deliver on our ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction targets."

The centre will lie between 2km and 4.5km off the coast and will be capable of generating up to 100MW, providing energy to meet the needs of 49,000 homes, almost half the number in Aberdeen, the Government said. It aims to allow developers and supply chain companies to test new technology offshore before commercial deployment. The application was given to Marine Scotland in August 2011 and went through a two-stage public consultation. A planning decision for a substation at Blackdog, just north of the city, will be a matter for Aberdeenshire Council.

Mr Ewing said the sector could generate more than £7 billion for the economy in Scotland and support up to 28,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirectly by 2020. "In consenting this application, I have put in place a number of conditions to mitigate a range of impacts. My role was in determination of assessing the offshore elements of this development in relation to the Electricity Act consent. An application for a marine licence, which is also required for the development, is under consideration and will be determined in due course. There is another consent relating to the Blackdog substation development which is also required and is a matter for Aberdeenshire Council."

The scheme was put together by Vattenfall Wind Power and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (Areg). Developers were told to set up plans to deal with concerns about the proximity to Blackdog firing range. A "radar mitigation scheme" is also required.

The long-running application pitted Mr Trump against First Minister Alex Salmond. His own scheme at Menie Estate, near Balmedie, also caused controversy, not least for building on an area of protected dunes. The golf resort application was initially rejected by a local authority committee, causing turmoil among councillors, and was called in by the Scottish Government. The First Minister became local MSP for the area in 2007.

In an interview last month, Mr Trump threatened legal action to halt the wind test centre. "I built a masterpiece. I don't want to see it destroyed by windmills. Windmills are going to be the death of Scotland and even England if they don't do something about them. They are ruining the countryside," he said.

Mr Salmond, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, said: "The north-east of Scotland is a world energy capital and, in order to continue to prosper, we have to be at the forefront of all forms of energy research - marine renewables, as well as oil and gas. A deployment centre will put Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in pole position for the development of offshore wind technology. Our ambition must be to see Scotland as the home of research, development, fabrication and deployment of deep-water marine technology. People in the north-east of Scotland well understand the importance of a deployment centre. This is reflected in the 465 representations in support of the offshore proposal, compared to 148 against. The Energy Minister was responsible for determining the offshore aspects of this proposal. Onshore is a matter for local decision-making."

Dr Sam Gardner, senior climate change policy officer at WWF Scotland, said: "Giving the go-ahead to this offshore wind test centre is the right decision, demonstrating that no amount of bluster from US billionaires such as Donald Trump will hold Scotland back from becoming a cleaner, greener, job-creating nation."

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