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Energy / Scoping report submitted for proposed offshore wind farm

An example of floating wind turbines.

PLANS for an offshore wind farm to the east of Shetland have taken a small step forward after an offshore scoping report was submitted to the Scottish Government.

However it still remains unclear what onshore infrastructure may be required in Shetland for the Arven project, and where it would be located.

The Arven offshore project could have a generating capacity of up to 2.3GW – more than five times that of the Viking Energy onshore wind farm – and may feature around 160 very large floating turbines.

It could be located around 30 kilometres off land, and cables are likely to run to the Shetland mainland as part of its export route.

Developers Mainstream Renewable Power and Ocean Winds previously said construction could begin in the 2030s if all the various consents are received.

While it is a long-term project, there has been a small step forward in recent weeks after an offshore scoping report was submitted to the Scottish Government’s marine directorate.

A spokesperson said the report describes the offshore elements of the Arven project and “frames the upcoming Offshore Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR); a key document that will accompany the future application for project consent”.

“The scoping report is subject to consultation with organisations such as Shetland Islands Council, commercial fishing representatives, NatureScot and RSPB Scotland,” they added.

“The output of the consultation is a ‘scoping opinion’ issued by the Marine Directorate, which will confirm the required content of the future EIAR.”

The Arven team plans to submit an onshore scoping report at a later date when the location of a grid connection is known.

That will set out details of the onshore infrastructure and environmental information required for the onshore EIAR.

“We will conduct community consultations on these aspects once their proposed locations are identified,” the spokesperson added.

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Meanwhile at a meeting of the Association of Shetland Community Councils last week Delting’s Alastair Cooper said word on the “grapevine” was that Arven was looking into using a redundant oil pipeline East of Shetland – perhaps either Brent or Ninian – to run cabling through.

However a spokesperson for Arven told Shetland News it is not yet determined where the development will connect into the grid on mainland Shetland, and therefore “it is not known whether any existing infrastructure will be present”.

“Once the location is determined and advised by SSEN Transmission, Arven will consider all technically viable options,” the spokesperson said.

In a recent National Grid report it was confirmed that electricity produced from offshore wind farms to the east of the isles should connect into Shetland.

This then prompted SSEN to announce plans for a second HVDC subsea link from Shetland to the Scottish mainland to support offshore wind having an export route.

Plans for second subsea HVDC cable well underway as contractors lined up

At 575 pages long, the main offshore scoping report is a fairly substantial read.

It covers a wide array of elements such as commercial fisheries, marine geology and mammals.

It raises a number of potential impacts on fisheries, including reduction in access to establishing grounds and displacement leading to increased fishing pressure in adjacent grounds.

There is a smaller wind farm which is also being proposed near to Arven – a 500MW development from ESB.

Both projects came through Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind leasing auction.

Meanwhile Arven continues to support the Wood Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) scheme.

Pupils from seven secondary schools across Shetland represented local community causes in recent finals.

The YPI project sees school children take on the cause of a local charity and present their case as to why it should receive funding.

From left to right: Ami Grains (pupil at Brae High School), Aaron Priest (stakeholder manager at Arven Offshore Wind Farm), Missy McShane (pupil at Brae High School), Rhianna Tulloch (pupil at Brae High School), Marie Manson (Volunteer at Shetland Sands), Emma Chittick (School co-ordinator at Developing the Young Workforce) and Judith Anderson (support team leader at TotalEnergies).

Sponsored by Arven, a total of £18,000 was awarded through YPI to winning charities including Shetland Bereavement Support Service, Shetland Women’s Aid, The Compass Centre and Shetland SANDS.

The seven Shetland schools taking part were Brae High School, Aith Junior High School, Anderson High School, the Mid Yell/Baltasound Junior High Schools, Whalsay School and Sandwick Junior High School.

To mark the end of the programme, nearly 30 young people and teachers from three of the schools will travelled to Perth for the YPI national event last week.

Arven stakeholder manager Aaron Priest said: “Arven is proud to sponsor this year’s YPI across Shetland secondary schools and I was delighted to witness the enthusiasm and dedication of the students participating in the YPI final.”

Anderson High School headteacher Robin Calder said the “quality of the presentations, knowledge and bravery of the young people was outstanding”.

Ellie Ratter, prevention and activism worker at funding recipient The Compass Centre, added: “The £3,000 will be amazing for us, helping to fund resources centred around young people and help to make our centre more welcoming.

“It’s been great to work with young people to get their perspectives and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with them.”

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