The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) : 2019-11-18

NEWS : 82 : 18

NEWS

18 news THE PRESS AND JOURNAL November 2019 Getting wind power right could be huge for Scotland There are many opportunit­ies for the offshore industry, but as finds out, wildlife concerns and job worries must be sorted out Ian Forsyth T looking to offshore renewable energy – and floating wind in particular – to help with the decarbonis­ation of its production in the short term and harnessing even stronger winds found further out at sea in the longer term.” The RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts have already voiced concern about the effect of the UK’s offshore wind sector. Earlier this year, they called for more action to reduce the impact of offshore wind on wildlife. The two organisati­ons say Britain’s offshore wind business has already achieved “astonishin­g” growth, generating huge quantities of renewable energy. And they point out that the sector is set to triple in size by 2030. However, their statement adds: “With this unpreceden­ted growth could come unpreceden­ted risks to marine wildlife. “For instance, offshore wind farms can harm seabirds and marine mammals by displacing animals and birds from feeding areas or through collisions with turbines. “These new pressures are additional to the widespread and, in some cases long-term, impacts of human activities in the marine environmen­t. he fast-growing offshore wind sector presents major opportunit­ies for Scotland and its businesses. As the windiest country in Europe, the potential for Scotland’s offshore wind industry is vast. There are now five wind farms operationa­l in the country’s waters, with another 11 projects in the pipeline. Yet not everything in this young sector is rosy. For example, there are concerns that not enough Scottish companies are benefiting from projects. In addition, the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts have expressed worries about the impact of UK offshore wind developmen­ts on wildlife. Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse says offshore wind has enormous potential to decarbonis­e the energy industry and generate economic value for Scotland. It is hoped the new Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council can help increase job numbers in the sector to more than 6,000 from a current figure of around 1,900. The council will try to grow Scotland’s operationa­l offshore wind capacity from 1 gigawatt (GW) to 8GW – the equivalent of powering 5.2 million households – by 2030. Meanwhile this spring, trade unions, offshore wind developers and supply chain companies agreed to take urgent action to ensure more Scottish companies benefit from the awarding of contracts for offshore wind projects. At a summit held by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and Mr Wheelhouse, the industry representa­tives agreed collective action was needed to ensure supply chain companies were well positioned to benefit from upcoming offshore wind projects. Fabrice Leveque, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, told the Press and Journal earlier this month: “Scotland has some of Europe’s best wind resource, with the potential to provide a substantia­l amount of the UK’s future low-carbon energy needs. “Looking to the future, a supportive planning system is necessary to ensure the continued developmen­t and growth of the next generation of offshore wind in Scottish waters. “The oil and gas sector “Balancing the ambitions of the offshore wind sector with the needs of marine wildlife will be essential if the sector is to be truly successful as a green industry.” The RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts say they have welcomed the UK Government and the sector’s acknowledg­ement of these issues and commitment­s to take action to address and overcome the challenges – particular­ly the cumulative environmen­tal impact. The organisati­ons add: “We look forward to a constructi­ve discussion with government and developers to deliver positive outcomes for offshore wind and the marine environmen­t.” Martin Harper, RSPB director of conservati­on, said the UK’s offshore wind sector is already a low carbon success story. However, he added: “The UK is globally important for seabirds and other marine wildlife. Much more needs to be done to minimise risks to seabirds from offshore wind.” Joan Edwards, director of public affairs and living seas at the wildlife trusts, said the offshore wind sector is the fastest growing of all marine industries. She added: “We must ensure that impacts of individual projects and both the cumulative and incombinat­ion effects are appropriat­ely assessed. “We believe that there is space for the right technology, in the right place, but our advances to produce green energy should not be at the expense of our wildlife.” is also Offshore wind farms can harm seabirds and marine mammals by displacing animals and birds from feeding areas or through collisions