Basking sharks and ground conditions are among the reasons for dropping the Argyll Array Offshore Windfarm proposal

Plans

for a £5.4billion offshore wind farm off the coast of Tiree in the Inner

Hebrides have been withdrawn.

Following

detailed technical and environmental site studies, ScottishPower Renewables

(SPR) has confirmed that they will not be taking forward their lease option to

develop the Argyll Array Offshore Windfarm in the near future.

The company has

stated that the project may be viable to reconsider as offshore wind technology

develops in the longer term, but estimates that will not be within the next

decade.

ScottishPower

Renewables has been working on the Argyll Array project since 2009, and a

variety of detailed technical and environmental studies have been completed as

part of their initial development work.

These studies have been reviewed over the last year in order to evaluate the viability of the

project and on the basis of these findings, a decision not to progress the

project, has been taken by both ScottishPower Renewables and The Crown Estate.

Basking sharks a key issue

The

main issues affecting the progression of the project are the ground conditions

in the site, particularly the presence of hard rock, coupled with challenging

wave conditions which could impact construction.

Beyond this, there is a

significant presence of basking sharks, which environmental groups continue to

study to get a greater understanding of their movements in the area.

Jonathan

Cole, head of offshore wind at ScottishPower Renewables, said: ‘We believe it

is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, it has the some of the best wind

conditions of any offshore zone in the UK.

‘However,

it is our view that the Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the

short term. As cost reductions continue to filter through the offshore wind

industry, and as construction techniques and turbine technology continues to

improve, we believe that the Argyll Array could become a viable project in the

long term.

‘The

rate of progress in development of foundation and installation technology has

been slower than anticipated. The current outlook for offshore wind deployment

in the UK suggests this will not significantly improve in the short term.

‘This

supports the view that it could take 10-15 years for the required technology

improvements to be available for this project.

‘The

Crown Estate agrees with our findings and development work will cease on the

project with immediate effect. This will give ScottishPower Renewables the

opportunity to fully construct the West of Duddon Sands project with DONG

Energy, and continue development work on the East Anglia Zone with Vattenfall.’

The

Crown Estate

The

Crown Estate manages the seabed around the UK, including leasing for offshore

renewable energy projects. The organisation, which works on a commercial basis

with profits paid to the UK Government, does not regulate or give planning

consent for projects.

Ronnie

Quinn who leads The Crown Estate’s Scottish energy and infrastructure team

said: ‘While there is an excellent wind resource at the Argyll Array site, both

organisations agree that the project should not proceed at this point in time.

‘Developers have to take a

wide range of factors into account when preparing to apply for planning consent

– this decision by The Crown Estate and SPR follows a very thorough assessment

of all those factors.

‘We look forward to continuing to work with ScottishPower

Renewables on other sites and programmes.’