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December 2, 2009

Who stands to gain from offshore wind bonanza?

Councils get round table with Crown Estates

Measures to ensure that local businesses and communities derive the maximum benefits from the development of the renewable energy sector were discussed at a meeting in Inverness recently. Senior representatives of Orkney Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), The Crown Estate and The Highland Council met at the The Highland Council’s headquarters in Glenurquhart Road, Inverness. The Crown Estate is currently going through the tender process for the development of offshore wind projects in the UK continental shelf and the Round 3 partners will be appointed by at the end of the year. The ambition is to generate around 40 GW of energy from renewable sources – a third of the UK’s electricity supply – from Scottish territorial waters together with Rounds 1, 2 and 3. It is anticipated that around 3 GW of this could be developed off the coast of the Highlands and Islands. In addition, the wave and tidal leasing round in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters is expected to deliver at least 700 MW of energy by 2020. At the meeting it was agreed that The Crown Estate and its development partners will work with the various public bodies in the Highlands and Islands to ensure that tangible benefits accrue to communities and local businesses. The potential for maximising construction, maintenance and training opportunities were discussed as well as mechanisms that could provide substantial financial benefits. Councillor Michael Foxley, Leader of the Administration, The Highland Council, who chaired the meeting, said: “This region offers valuable natural resources for a vital global industry. We will work together towards one common goal – to maximise the benefits that are in prospect for Highlands and Islands communities. We will be embarking on joint work on trade
fairs, maximising the use of local companies; discussing training and we need input into the generality of leases.” Orkney Islands Council Convener, Stephen Hagan said: “We felt it was a very constructive meeting with a positive commitment from The Crown Estate to work with us to ensure that the considerable investment in marine renewables which is taking place brings direct benefits to the Orkney community. We will be working in partnership with them together with our colleagues across the Highlands and Islands to make the most of these tremendous opportunities.”

Welcoming the agreement, The Crown Estate’s chief executive Roger Bright said: “The Crown Estate is looking forward to working with the six local authorities in the Highlands and Islands and with Highlands & Islands Enterprise, to ensure that the benefits from the investment in offshore renewables to the region are maximised. This is a powerful alliance that we believe with deliver results.” The matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the Highland and Islands convener’s group.