Largest onshore wind farm given the green light

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The Independent Online

Scottish & Southern unveiled plans yesterday to build the UK's largest onshore wind farm - capable of powering a quarter of all homes in Scotland - in the Shetland Islands.

The project, which is still subject to planning permission from the Scottish Executive, will be run in conjunction with the Shetland Islands' council, who will own a 50 per cent stake in the site through their subsidiary Viking Energy. The council will plough all profits from the venture back into the local community.

The farm will have approximately 300 wind turbines, covering 90 square kilometres of landand producing around 600 megawatts of power. The plan is to connect the farm to the Scottish mainland using a cable which will run underneath the sea.

With the backing of the Shetland Islands' council already sown up, the project has a good chance of receiving the green light from the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting on the launch of the project yesterday, Sir Robert Smith, Scottish & Southern's chairman, who signed the partnership agreement for SSE in Shetland today, said: "SSE has a long-established track record in renewable energy and ambitious plans for the future. This agreement helps pave the way for a renewable energy project which can be a world leader in terms of scale, the richness of the natural resources being harnessed and the involvement of the local community.

"Our partnership with Viking Energy is an exciting and significant step forward and I am optimistic that our joint venture for this leading-edge renewable energy project will become a reality."

Scottish & Southern also received planning permission for another smaller wind farm yesterday, at Toddleburn on the Scottish borders. The farm will comprise just 12 turbines, generating some 36 megawatts of electricity, and will cost £40m to build.

When the Toddleburn site is completed, the company will have more than 230 megawatts of power generated through its wind farms. Commenting on the news yesterday, Ian Marchant, the group's chief executive, said that while it was a relief to have received the go-ahead for the Toddleburn site, Scotland's planning system remains too complex. "I am pleased that the Toddleburn wind farm has received consent, and we will work to ensure that the construction work at Toddleburn is carried out efficiently and with minimal disturbance to the local community," he said.

"While we have had two recent successes, securing consent to develop wind farms remains a very difficult and time-consuming process, and reform is essential if Scotland's renewable energy ambitions are to be fulfilled."

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