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Offshore £2.3bn wind farm green-lit by energy giant SSE

Beatrice is expected to be operational by 2019 and power around 450,000 homes.

By STV News

Published 23 May 2016.

A £2.3bn offshore wind farm in the Outer Moray Firth has been green-lit by developers.

The 84-turbine facility is expected to be operational by 2019 and power around 450,000 homes.

Majority stakeholder SSE gave final approval the Beatrice project on Monday after reaching a financial agreement with partners CIP and SDIC Power.

SSE claims the wind farm will provide a £680m boost to the economy through employment and construction contracts.

Paul Cooley, director of renewables at SSE, said: "We are delighted that Beatrice has achieved financial close and we are extremely grateful for all of the support received throughout the development of the project.

"Contracts have already been placed with many UK based suppliers, and Siemens intend to undertake turbine blade construction from Siemen's new manufacturing facility in Hull.

"Around £10m of investment is planned at Wick Harbour to house the wind farm's operations and maintenance facilities and improving the existing RNLI facilities.

"Today's decision reaffirms SSE's commitment to offshore wind and we are proud to progress such a flagship project for the Scottish offshore wind industry and the UK's skilled supply chain."

Around 65 people will be employed during the construction phase of the project and another 90 once Beatrice is operational.

A two-turbine demonstrator wind farm was constructed in the Outer Moray Firth in 2007 to establish whether a commercial facility was feasible.

The 84-turbine wind farm now earmarked for the region was backed by the Scottish Government in 2014.

Scottish Renewables senior policy manager Lindsay Roberts said: "Beatrice is the first commercial offshore wind farm to reach this stage of development in Scottish waters. It's fantastic that the partners in the project will now be moving ahead with construction."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks added: "Proceeding with the Beatrice offshore wind farm is great news for the climate and Scotland's economy.

"This single project will quadruple our offshore wind capacity, helping to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as well as creating jobs and supporting local economic renewal.

"Scotland's waters boast 25% of Europe's offshore wind resource and it is vital that we continue to tap into this invaluable resource in the future."