Highlands & Islands

Beatrice wind farm to go ahead in Outer Moray Firth

Illustration of wind farm Image copyright SSE

Energy giant SSE is to go ahead with the construction of the £2.6bn Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (Bowl) project.

It will see 84 turbines installed in the Outer Moray Firth, which will generate 588MW of power once operational in 2019.

The Scottish government gave the project consent in March 2014 and it was granted an investment contract by the UK government in May that year.

Construction work is expected to start next year.

The harbour at Wick will be used for the shipping in and out of equipment, turbines and construction workers.

SSE has the largest stake in the project - 40% - with organisations Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners having a 35% stake and SDIC Power 25%.

The project will be one of the largest private investments ever made in Scottish infrastructure, according to SSE.

It has claimed the farm would generate enough electricity for 450,000 properties and support about 890 jobs. Ninety staff would be needed to maintain the farm once it was operational.

Conservation group WWF Scotland said the scheme would help to tackle climate change, while Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said it would bring important investment and jobs to the Highlands and Moray.

Image copyright SSE

Paul Cooley, director of renewables at SSE, said: "Contracts have already been placed with many UK based suppliers, and Siemens intend to undertake turbine blade construction from Siemens' new manufacturing facility in Hull.

"Around £10m of investment is planned at Wick Harbour to house the wind farm's operations and maintenance facilities and improving the existing RNLI facilities."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "Proceeding with the Beatrice offshore wind farm is great news for the climate and Scotland's economy.

"This single project will almost quadruple our offshore wind capacity, helping to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as well as creating jobs and supporting local economic renewal.

"Scotland's waters boast 25% of Europe's offshore wind resource and it is vital that we continue to tap into this invaluable resource in the future."

At its closest point the farm would be about 8.5 miles (13.5km) from the east Caithness coast.