The national bird life protection charity RSPB Scotland has endorsed the proposal to build a floating offshore wind farm in the Pentland Firth near Dounreay.
Developer Dounreay Trì Ltd is proposing to build a floating offshore wind farm consisting of two turbines, located on a single semi-submersible floating platform, with an installed capacity of between 8 to 16 megawatts (MW) approximately four miles off the Caithness coast.
It is proposed that a single export cable will bring the power to shore at, or near, Sandside Bay and will connect to an onshore substation and associated electrical infrastructure near Dounreay substation.
Energy consultancy Aquatera has carried out environmental impact assessments for a number of receptors on behalf of Dounreay Trì Limited for the proposed project.
Charles Nathan, Marine Conservation Planner at RSPB Scotland, said: “We have written to Marine Scotland in support of the ambitious Dounreay Tri floating wind demonstration project.
“Our own research has shown the vast opportunity that floating wind technology could play in harnessing the renewable energy from our seas and this project is an important first step to realising this potential.
“From our view, the benefit of floating devices is they can be located further offshore in deeper waters in areas which could present lower risks to marine wildlife, such as seabirds. As a result we anticipate that deep-water floating renewables could be delivered without undue risks to Scotland’s most precious natural marine sites and species.
“Whilst Dounreay Tri is by necessity located nearer to shore, it is small-scale and away from areas where other factors are causing significant concern for seabirds.
“We have, however, requested that a comprehensive environmental monitoring programme is implemented should the project secure consent, which will help us better understand how floating wind developments affect birds, other wildlife and the marine environment.”