Power giant Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) revealed yesterday that a planning application for a major offshore windfarm beside Tiree will be delayed by about a year.
The scheme, known as the Argyll Array, was due to be submitted to the Scottish Government in 2013, but will now not be submitted until the second half of 2014.
SPR has denied claims from campaigners opposed to the Array that the company is waiting to see what happens in the Scottish independence referendum, slated for late 2014.
The delay means that if approved, the massive windfarm, which would be one of the largest in Europe, cannot be completed until 2020, instead of 2018.
The No Tiree Array group say that one reason for the delay is that “the energy giant does not wish to make a firm commitment to such a massive investment until Scotland’s constitutional position is resolved”.
The group, who want the windfarm to be sited at least 22 miles away from the island, have welcomed the news.
A spokesman for SPR rejected the claim as “nonsense” and said the delay is down to technical issues and environmental concerns.
And he maintained that SPR is already spending most of its £1billion UKbudget in Scotland this year.
He said: “SPR has been working to assess the environmental impacts of the Argyll Array project on both land and sea.
“These initial studies have identified two species which may be impacted by the project development; basking sharks and great northern divers – seabirds which feed in the site during winter.
“As a result, SPR will now work to better understand the potential effects on these species and what can be done to ensure any potential impacts are minimised.”
Tiree, population 770, is the closest landmass to the site of the Argyll Array windfarm, which could provide 1,800MW of energy – enough to power up to 1million households.
If current plans are approved, up to 300 turbines with a height of up to 670ft could be built within three miles of the island.
The No Tiree Array campaign is one of 48 community groups which are at present fighting windfarm planning applications in Scotland.
They are represented by Communities Against Turbines Scotland (Cats), which is organising a mass rally outside the Scottish Parliament on April 25, when Donald Trump is due to address MSPs.