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EOWDC delayed until 2017 after offer from National Grid

Artists impression of the scale of the wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen that is being opposed by Donald Trump.
Artists impression of the scale of the wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen that is being opposed by Donald Trump.

Backers of a major offshore wind energy development planned near the Aberdeen coast say the £230million project has been pushed back two years.

Vattenfall and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (Areg) said the 11-turbine test centre is now scheduled to connect in 2017 after the majority shareholders accepted an offer from the National Grid.

The delay was last night hailed as a positive move to secure the future of the development, which faces an ongoing legal challenge from Donald Trump.

The US tycoon has complained the windfarm would ruin views from his golf resort at Menie Estate, and threatened to pull the plug on future investment. His legal team told the Court of Session last month that the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) could cost £1billion and jeopardise thousands of jobs.

The EOWDC suffered a setback in October when plans for a substation to bring power ashore at Blackdog were rejected by local councillors.

And Swedish company Vattenfall is still seeking investors to take over its 75% stake in the project after an announcement in May that it would be scaling back its commitment.

Yesterday Peter Wesslau, the UK country manager for Vattenfall and a director of Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd (AOWFL), insisted it was not unusual for timetables to be amended in such a large project. He said: “This will allow us to engage further with stakeholders to consider the effects of the onshore construction issues and the legal challenge.”

Mr Wesslau added that AOWFL will continue to work for an earlier grid connection than now scheduled, in late 2017.

He added that he could not reveal details of potential new investors in the scheme at this stage.

EOWDC project spokesman Iain Todd said the development remained “strategically important” for the offshore wind industry in Scotland, the UK and Europe.

Mr Todd said consideration was being given to the reasons set out by Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine area committee for refusing planning consent for the Blackdog substation. The developers will have to decide to appeal against the councillors’ ruling, or submit plans for an alternative site.

A Scottish Government spokesman said last night: “The EOWDC will play a key role in developing Scotland’s huge offshore wind potential. This announcement ensures that the project continues to move forward.”

Meanwhile a ruling from a judge at the Court of Session in the ongoing legal battle over the EOWDC is due to be published in the coming months.

Lord Doherty heard evidence in a judicial review hearing last month after the Trump Organisation petitioned to overturn a decision by Scottish ministers in March to approve the £230million scheme.

Mr Trump believes the 11-turbine project would ruin the view from the fairways, undermining the commercial viability of his luxury resort.

But the Scottish Government has argued potential benefits to golf or tourism have to be weighed alongside benefits in other areas.

And backers of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre have said the location has been “carefully chosen” following more than six years of extensive investigation, public engagement and analysis.

Last night, north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald stressed the importance of the EOWDC to the region.

He said: “We must not miss the boat on offshore wind.

“Only this week the UK Government announced it is changing its support system to boost offshore wind, while the European Union has already put up 40million euros to back this particular project.

“Aberdeen is uniquely well-placed to give a lead with this truly innovative project, thanks to our existing expertise in offshore energy, and we must seize this opportunity with both hands.”

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