Developing a Deep Water Facility in Scapa Flow “a once in a generation opportunity”

Orkney Islands Council (OIC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Crown Estate Scotland to develop deep water facilities in Scapa Flow for wind renewables.

Described by Councillor James Stockan, Leader of OIC as having ‘huge potential’, he went on to say:

“As a purpose-built facility surrounded by the safe and sheltered waters of Scapa Flow, it would have a vital role to play in enabling a major expansion of offshore wind farms in Scottish waters.

“It’s encouraging that wind farm developers have expressed considerable interest in getting involved in the project – and we are delighted that Crown Estate Scotland will be working closely with us as it develops.

“I regard this as a once in a generation opportunity, a transformational project that would deliver a major boost for our local economy – creating jobs and business opportunities throughout our islands.”

Published in September 2020 Ports for offshore wind identified locations throughout Scotland for developing the wind renewables sector.

According to the report, ports with the greatest potential to serve as multi-project hubs include, but are not limited to;

  • Montrose
  • Aberdeen
  • Peterhead
  • Scrabster
  • Kirkwall
  • Stromness
  • Lerwick

For large construction sites the following locations have been pinpointed: the Cromarty Firth and Inner Moray Firth, and Orkney and Caithness areas. Other sites are also listed as having potential.

Figure C.1 – CTV based O&M, all ports meeting hard criteria. Ports for offshore wind. Crown Estate Scotland

The report made 3 main recommendations:

  1. Scotland should collectively aim to increase large port capacity that is suitable for marshalling and assembly activities, acting as a key enabling action for growth of domestic manufacturing
  2. Support strategic port planning for offshore wind
  3. Encourage development of optimal O&M facilities

OIC now have to produce a detailed appraisal of the costs involved and of potential sources of external funding for the project.

Director of Marine for Crown Estate Scotland, Colin Palmer, said:

“Projects like this can drive investment into the blue economy and can hopefully help communities in Orkney realise the economic benefits of the major strides Scotland is taking in the development of offshore wind.”

(photo K Armet)

Scapa Flow is also a site of marine wildlife and historic significance including designated war graves. In 2020 the National Trust for Scotland expressed concern that Scapa Flow was not among the sites announced as one of the  12 new marine Special Protected Areas and four new Marine Protected Areas.

Stuart Brooks, Head of Conservation and Policy at NTS, said: 

“The trust is also concerned that the proposed SPAs around Scapa Flow and the area north of the Orkney mainland have not been taken forward. We encourage the Scottish Government to work to progress these sites to protect wintering bird populations as well as the feeding grounds of bird populations in the North East.”

Scotland has a National Marine Plan and Regional versions are being produced.

Regional Marine Plans will be prepared for 11 Scottish Marine Regions covering Scottish territorial waters. Statutory regional Marine Planning Partnerships (MPPs) will develop the Regional Marine Plans in line with the NMP.

Once Regional Marine Plans are in place, decisions made by public bodies – such as granting licences or planning permission, or managing other activities – must reflect plan policies.

Shetland and Clyde were the first regions to set up MPPs and be granted authority to create Regional Marine Plans in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Orkney followed these, with authority being granted in 2020.  NatureScot sits on the Advisory group of the Shetland Islands Marine Planning Partnership and is a member of the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership. (NatureScot)

Hywind Floating Turbines under construction at Stord, Norway on 28 June 2017. Credit Crown Estate Scotland

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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