UK generator SSE has been boosted by progress on two onshore wind projects totalling 400MW of capacity, after the Scottish government granted planning consent to the 240MW Stronelairg wind farm on Friday.
The approval followed Thursday’s news that the 160MW Strathy South wind farm could be on course for local council approval next week, increasing the chances of final commissioning before 2017.
The likelihood of the local council looking favourably at Strathy South increased on Thursday, when council members were urged not to object to the project on a professional planning recommendation.
A positive decision could pave the way for construction on the farm to begin next year enabling grid connectivity before 2017, subject to approval from the Scottish government, a spokeswoman for SSE said.
The company is cautious on the outcome of next week’s council meeting despite a unanimous letter of support issued by the local community to the council.
“The bottom line is that it’s not a done deal as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has launched a campaign and the Scottish National Heritage has publicly objected,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the company is confident it can manage the concerns raised by both bodies.
Although rejection of the proposal by the council would not impact on a Scottish government decision in 2015, SSE fears the project’s time line could be pushed back because of possible legal challenges by the council if its recommendation goes unheeded by the government.
Stronelairg wind farm
Meanwhile, the Scottish government has given the final seal of approval to the 240MW Stronelairg onshore project, although SSE was unable to confirm when construction of the farm will begin.
The farm’s size has been downgraded from original plans, with 16 of 83 planned turbines refused consent.
Momentum is growing behind onshore wind deployment in Scotland following last month’s planning consent for the 104MW Kype Muir onshore wind farm by the Scottish government.
This is in spite of a negative shift in the political debate on the industry’s future following the Conservative Party’s disclosure that it intends to halt subsidies for new projects if it wins an outright majority in the 2015 election. Henry Evans