MORE than 1,000 giant turbines could be built in the seas around Scotland, it has been announced, as green energy firms have been invited to begin the process of planning to build six gigawatts of offshore wind farms

The announcement is a huge step forward for the country’s renewable energy sector. However, there have been warnings that care must be taken not to damage the marine environment.

The Crown Estate, which owns the seabed, has invited firms to tender for ten sites.

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The largest proposed is a 1.5GW wind farm close to Tiree, proposed by ScottishPower Renewables. This could see turbines on more than 1,200 sq km of sea.

Second largest would be a site in the Moray Firth, where about 180 turbines could be built alongside Scotland’s only two existing offshore turbines.

The Crown Estate has given exclusivity agreements to nine firms for the sites. They will now have to begin a detailed process of drawing up plans and submitting applications for consent from the Scottish Government.

The wind farms would make great strides towards achieving the government’s targets of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

However, marine conservation charities have warned that care must be taken to protect the seabed. There are also significant challenges to overcome – not least difficulties in constructing and maintaining the structures.

Jason Ormiston, chief executive of green energy trade body Scottish Renewables, said: “The combined capacity of these projects will make a massive contribution to Scotland’s efforts in tackling climate change, helping to deliver reliable and affordable supplies of electricity.”

Aedán Smith, head of planning with RSPB Scotland, said: “We are working with the Crown Estate, developers and Scottish Natural Heritage to make sure developments don’t jeopardise Scotland’s marine environment.”

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