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Transformational ScottishPower project could turn the tide for rural and coastal communities

30/04/2024

ScottishPower Renewables’ first fixed-bottom foundation offshore windfarm in Scottish waters could bring jobs and an economic boost and create positive and lasting benefits for rural and coastal communities, according to a new independent report.

Beach near the Machairwind project

The BiGGAR Economics study investigated the potential benefits and opportunities for communities and supply chain businesses located around any chosen construction facility and dedicated operations and maintenance base for the MachairWind offshore windfarm.

No decision has been taken as yet on where these facilities will be hosted.

MachairWind will be developed in the waters north-west of Islay and west of Colonsay. With a proposed generating capacity of up to 2GW, it could produce enough clean, green electricity to power the equivalent of up to two million homes across the UK.

The BiGGAR Economics study looked at eight locations – based on geographical proximity to MachairWind – that could be considered for the project, subject to further studies including technical feasibility.

•            Islay, Oban – operations and maintenance base

•            Campbeltown and Machrihanish, Clyde Coast (including Hunterston) – operations and maintenance base, and construction port

•            Arnish, Belfast, Kishorn, Nigg – construction port

As well as assessing opportunities created by the project, it also considered any potential impacts of using the different ports for the construction period to build the windfarm and/or the lifespan of its operations.

BiGGAR Economics’ report concludes that MachairWind could create transformational opportunities to address skills gaps, support sustainability efforts, enhance community wellbeing and stimulate growth in economically-disadvantaged areas – all while acknowledging existing constraints in infrastructure, housing, labour availability, public services and island habitability.

This includes potential for diversifying the economic base and reducing reliance on individual sectors/employers; providing training and skills development; assessing local infrastructure; attracting and retaining working people and families in rural communities; fostering a strong local supply chain; and enhancing energy infrastructure to support the journey towards net zero.

Graeme Blackett, Managing Director of BiGGAR Economics said: “MachairWind is an important offshore wind development and while there are lots of moving parts to be considered and varying estimated impacts in each possible location, what is crystal clear is the great potential for ScottishPower Renewables to create wide-ranging benefits for communities, both economic and social. Our thanks to everyone who provided valuable input to our study.” 

Responding to the report, ScottishPower Renewables’ Kiera Wilson, MachairWind Development Lead, said: “While no preferred port locations have been selected for MachairWind’s construction and operations at this very early stage – and there’s a lot more work to be done around this – the BiGGAR Economics study provides valuable insight and analysis that will inform our next steps and help ensure we ultimately make the right decision not just for the project, but for local people and places too.

“The study shows how important it is to consider all possible scenarios and impacts, and how vital communication and collaboration with communities will continue to be as we work to bring MachairWind to life.

“ScottishPower Renewables has a proven and positive track record of working with local people, communities and businesses across Argyll and Bute to maximise the benefits and opportunities from our windfarms. I’m confident MachairWind will live up to that and create a legacy for a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future.”

The BiGGAR Economics report, ‘MachairWind Development Economic and Social Scenarios: Opportunities and Impacts’ is available here.

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