Disputed £2bn Scottish offshore wind farm development as ‘economically significant’ as new Forth road bridge

Andy Kinsella
Andy Kinsella

Construction and development of a major offshore wind farm off the Angus and Fife coastline would be the largest infrastructure investment in Scotland – if it ever goes ahead.

Following completion of the new Queensferry road bridge across the Forth – which is due to open tomorrow –  the proposed NnG wind farm would be Scotland’s next major infrastructure project.

A study of the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm (NnG) carried out by the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde, has estimated that over the lifetime of the project it would generate an economic impact equivalent to 0.6% of Scotland’s gross domestic product .

However, the development, proposed by Ireland-based Mainstream Renewables and approved by the Scot-Govt, is caught in an ongoing legal battle in the British Supreme Court following an appeal by RSPB Scotland.

The study into the economic effects of the £2 billion infrastructure project also reveals that NnG will create 13,900 man-years years of employment across its construction and operational phases.

The report was commissioned by Mainstream Renewable Power, developers of NnG, in order to evaluate and fully understand the project’s impact on the Scottish economy. Other highlights of the study are:

  • The impact on Scottish GDP (in 2016 terms) amounts to or £827.4 million over the lifetime of the project
  • Some £382 million of additional activity will be generated in Scotland’s construction industries, with a further £440.2 millioin in the services sector.
  • 13,900 person years of employment will be supported by NnG over the course of its lifetime, equating to an average of 2,000 Scottish jobs for every year of construction and an average of 236 Scottish jobs for every year of operation

Dr Stuart McIntyre of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “This study investigated the wider economic impacts on the Scottish economy of Mainstream Renewable Power’s anticipated expenditure on the NnG project.

“Our study shows that, based on information provided to us about the expected size of this project and the anticipated spend within Scotland, there could be an impact on the Scottish economy over the 30 year lifetime of this project equivalent to 0.6% of Scottish GDP in 2016.”

Andy Kinsella, Chief Operating Officer, Mainstream Renewable Power, said:“We have always known that NnG, as a large scale energy infrastructure project, is important for the Scottish economy.

“The results of the Fraser of Allander Institute’s study show the full extent of NnG’s impact on the Scottish economy for the first time. The study confirms that NnG will support the creation or retention of large numbers of high skilled, high quality jobs in Scotland during construction and its 25 year operational lifetime.

“The NnG Offshore Wind Farm Coalition last week called on RSPB Scotland to abandon its legal action challenging this project and three others.

“This report shows the full extent of the economic benefit to Scotland put at risk by this ongoing action.

“I would ask RSPB Scotland to listen to this call and allow the project to move forward into construction. In doing so, Scotland will reap both the economic and the climate change benefits of a green energy project capable of supplying the electricity needs of a city the size of Edinburgh while displacing 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.”

29 Aug 2017

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