Tiree Master Plan

This page takes you through what was grandly offered as the TIREE MASTER PLAN

Stuffing Turbines #2Subsequently it  morphed into a much lesser Tiree Onshore Scenario Mapping Exercise.

The original Tiree Master Plan concept was  a long time in gestation, but subsequently morphed into an “ON-SHORE SCENARIO MAPPING”  exercise, and reduced to merely address the possible 4 Operation and Maintenance  (O&M) scenarios .

Its genesis can be found as one of the outcomes of June 2010 Tiree Public Meeting, at which the extent of the proposed Tiree Array,and any associated development, were revealed. These were described by Scottish Government as transformational’.

This public meeting was attended by representatives of Government, and statutory consultees to the Planning and Licensing  process. There was a gathering perception, by these consultees, that the impacts  of the proposed Array were such, that Tiree would be a “test” case.  This perception stimulated the requirement for a Tiree Master Plan.

What has never been explained is why, prior to Draft Plan adoption:-

  • None of the other eight proposed off-shore Arrays were deemed to merit consideration for a “Master Plan”
  • Argyll and Bute Council initiated the Tiree Master Plan process, albeit a Scottish Govt funded initiative, yet no comparable Islay Master Plan was ever initiated. 

Government and Developer perceptions of a requirement for Tiree Master Plan were manifestly stimulated by Tiree’s comparative isolation, 4 hrs by ferry from the mainland,and the socio-economic implications of the imposition of inward migration of a 30% population increase, on a traditional hebridean island crofting community.



What emerged was not the GRAND MASTER PLAN suggested by Scottish Government at the June 2010 public meeting

The tender documents articulated the  purpose of this exercise, but also advised that its conclusions, and recommendation, would be advisory, and not executory.

This begged the obvious questions ..what was the point ?

  • SPR made the following statement at the outset(Dec 2010);..The masterplan should therefore be decoupled from the project consent process.” By laying down this ‘marker SPR  indicated their detachment from this planning exercise. SPR , by adopting this perspective, openly challenged its admissibility, and relevance to the consenting process.

Environmental Consultants. Ironside Farrar (IF)  were appointed to the project. IF provide multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy services to private and public sector clients

IF’s subsequent consultation process, and Final Report, were exemplary.

In NTA’s opinion this was the finest work to input, and inform,on the proposed Tiree Array, from its  2009 inception, to it being dropped in Dec 2013.

This process  provided insight into the 4 possible “ final solutions

These are the consultation boards which were integral to the  consulting process. Be patient for the docs to be uploaded then scroll down the file )

This was reviewed at a Tiree Public Meeting chaired by A&B council,with  reps from The Crown Estates, HIE , SNH ,and SPR attending. Scottish Govt reps, for extenuating reasons, were not able to attend.

It was what the report ‘lacked’ that was hotly debated. The lack of detail on the implications of  Deemed Consent for  any shore-side development, incl a possible Onshore Converter was a major issue . SPR was asked, in the most diplomatic way, to present details of the possible Onshore converter station, notwithstanding their qualified indication that it was intended Offshore.

The Final Report was Published (Oct 2012)

It was  a comprehensive and detailed report of the physical impacts derived from the possible 4 Operation and Maintenance(O&M) options.

The Final Report is a big file,be patient , give it time to upload.

Scottish Govt /SPR/A&B Council all evangelically promoted the Tiree Array as offering  economic development to Tiree  with Tiree becoming the O&M base, notwithstanding this would  have required a multi million pound  investment to develop the required  port facilities, which SPR did not intend to fund . SPR expected Scottish Govt /A&B to fund any such port development.

NTA consistently challenged their evangelicalism . All parties ignored two fundamental points in reducing possible economic benefit for Tiree by promoting it as the O&M base

  • (1) O&M, incl its base, was the decision of the turbine supplier, NOT the Developer
  • (2) The O&M decision, incl its base, was a post consent-investment decision

NTA on challenging SPR on these fundamental points, SPR offered  the ultimate obfuscation by suggesting, blandly ,that SPR  would “hope to influence the turbine suppliers decision”  .

Further confirmation can be seen by the sequence and time-line of SSE’s proposed  Beatrice off shore wind farm.  It was Adopted by Scottish Government in Mar 2011 simultaneously  with SPR’s proposed Tiree Array,

Beatrice Time -Line :  April 2014 Consent / Jan 2016 Final Investment decision(FID)/May 2016 Turbine and O&M decision/Aug 2016 O&M Base decision subj to planning permission.

The study confirmed that Scenario 1, ie Tiree  shore based O&M, was the only option offering any possible meaningful economic development. In doing so it concluded the main beneficiary would be A&B,and not Tiree .

NTA ‘s own study of the trajectory of O&M, suggested that Scenarios 2&3 , ie specialised O&M vsls operating within the Array but from a mainland O&M base, would be the O&M modus operandi for the Tiree Array, should it go ahead.

Subsequent O&M development has proven this to be the case.

Offshore wind serice vessel. 25 jne JPG


Spezialschiff bei der Wartung einer Windturbine / Special service vessel during maintenance work on a wind turbine

Siemens:- the major turbine supplier to offshore windfarms  contracted  in 2013  two O&M vesselswith Danish owners Esvagt.  The first one has just delivered (Feb 2015) from Norwegian builders, Havyard, into a 5 year contract to service Siemens turbines in the Baltic.


Two of these O&M vessels are now operational in the N Sea as per this Siemens video :-


Windea Siemens jpg June 2016Earlier in 2015  Siemens contracted two further  service windfarm maintenance  vessels. They can accommodate 60 of which 40 are wind turbine service technicians. The hull will be a first for the Ulstein X Bow-Stern Combo,ti improve stability and DP positioning. One unit is intended to service  Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, off Cromer. Dudgeon is a JV between Statkraft and Statoil. The first of these two vessels, the Windea  was delivered in June 2016 Windea 2 june 2016



Once more, one has to ask why  UK-Scotland is not in the supply chain ?

Two similar O&M vsls have been ordered (24 Jan 2017) by ACTA Marine a Dutch contractor to the offshore wind market

SX195-Acta-Jan17-Sunset (1)

offshore_wohnplattform  11NovFred Olsen and Teekay Offshore Partners a sbsidiary of Teekay Shipping ,one of the biggest players in all sectors of global ship operation have entered into an agreement (jan 2017)  to co-develop a new vessel that ‘will allow technicians to access wind turbines in higher sea states at a lower cost. for the offshore wind market‘.

Vattenfall for 2 N.Sea projects , has ordered this O&M rig to accommodate 50 O&M workers all year round. It will be the biggest accommodation platform to be used in the offshore wind sector. It has now on ‘station’ (Nov 2016)

Scenarios 2&3  ie specialised  O&M vessels or  O&M-Accommodation rigs operating within the offshore windfarms , have now become established O&M practice.

O&M ,to be based on Tiree, was the least likely of all the O&M options. It was a mirage . However it suited both SPR and Scottish Govt to maintain this mirage, to project the Tiree Array as offering long term economic benefit to Tiree.

The trajectory towards O&M operating from specialised O&M vessels, operating within wind farms with O&M technicians stationed on board,has been  confirmed with DONG chartering-in this new O&M vessel on a 5/5 yr (ie up to 10 yrs) charter for its UK Race Bank project 17 miles off the Lincs-Norfolk coast (Oct 2015)
Osteejsjo O&M for Dong Oct 2015

Hornsea image

And so this trajectory continues.  Dong contracted (May 2016 ) with the same Norwegian owners, Ostensjø Rederi for a sister vessel for five years/five optional years (upto 10 years). The 81.1m vessel will have a beam of 17.0m. The vessel is a dynamic positioning class 2 SOV with a high level of station keeping and it to accommodate up to 40 wind turbine technicians in addition to a marine crew of 20. it will function as a mothership for wind turbine technicians as they undertake maintenance work on Dong’s Hornsea  windfarm development.


An interesting development , with the contraction of N Sea oil development is this the conversion announced (Oct 2015) of this  N.SEA oil rig supply vsl to an offshore  windfarm O&M vsl


She has been converted to:-


She is now the Dudgeon off shore wind farm

The  trajectory of N SEA oil and gas service vessels being repositioned in the off shore wind market continues with Siemens  chartering ( Jan 2016) Eidesvik’s Acergy Viking  (below)to serve as a combined hotel and transfer vessel during the commissioning of the  288MW Sandbank offshore wind farm (German N Sea). The period is for 9 months from Aug 2016, prior to which an offshore gangway system will be installed.

Acergy viking image may 2017

Siemens has extended the charter( May 2017) for 6  months, to deploy the  Acergy Viking in the Siemens O&M fleet .



The long term O&M trajectory continues with with  MHI-Vestas now endorsing the Siemens O&M strategy by placing an order for an O&M vessel(Dec 2015) ,similar to the Siemens O&M fleet,from the same Norwegian shipyard,for delivery in 2017,

ESVAGT-MHI-Vestas-SOV-831-news (1) It will service the MHI-Vestas turbines @ the Belgian  Nobelwind and Belwind offshore windfarms. Note MHI-Vestas  O&M contract is for 15 years.

Esvagt have ordered(Aug 2017) this wind farm service vessel  for delivery in 2019 to enter a similar 15 yr contract with MHI-Vestas to service the Deutche Bucht  offshore windfarm.

Evsagt 15 yr vsl

And yet another walk-to-work vessel  for offshore windfarm O&M has  been ordered(Jan 2016) . The significance of this particular order is it is a first for an UK offshore services company, Bibby Marine Services Limited, part of Bibby Line Group.

Bibby-WaveMaster-1-2 jpg

The order has been placed in Holland withe Damen Shipyards Group.  Alas no UK yard offers such designs .

The vessel, Bibby WaveMaster 1, has now secured( July 2017) her 1st charter from April 2018 for 6 months option 3 years with TOTAL to be deployed in the offshore oil and gas industry.This is not strange, as both offshore energy  industries have similar construction and O&M requirements. For full tech details /spec click on this link

Yet another offshore wind farm maintenance mother-vessel project has been rolled out .

Houlder vsls June 2016

Dreyfeus SOV 8 Feb 2017

And  yet another Wind Farm Service Operation Vessel (SOV)  has been ordered (8 Feb2017) . This one by Dreyfus ( a French company ) to go under contract to DONG, designed in Norway to be built in Turkey and possibly outfitted in Norway



This trajectory, and O&M contractual arrangements, confirms NTA’s  assertion throughout the Tiree Array saga that the O&M modus operandi, and its possible Tiree location, was misrepresented to the Tiree Community .

Was this intentional?  

At the outset ,Tiree to be the designated the Tiree Array’s O&M base, was an illusion, some may say it was an intentional deception perpetrated by SPR and Government .

The Relationship Between the Investment and O&M Decisions Beatrice

Following consent,  and often prior to the start of construction, re-financing  and re-structuring ownership has become the norm ie the original utility company promoting the development dilutes its equity and investment.  SSE has reduced its original 75 % majority stake in the Beatrice offshore wind farm to a 40% minority stake. SSE  made equity dilution a condition for its continued equity participation.  CIP, a Danish infrastructure fund management company, is now the biggest investor in Beatrice.

International banks specialising in infrastructure finance have taken considerable market-share in offshore wind farm investment.

The primary long term  concern for these investors is O&M. But the nature of the turbine suppliers guarantee terms to the developer, has ensured,sequentially, the continuum a development norm, with long term O&M being vested with the turbine manufacturer/supplier,  It is now the pre-requisite adopted norm for any potential investor.

Beatrice has selected Siemens turbines, and with it, a Siemens 15 yr O&M service agreement.

The trajectory for the O&M base to be  “offshore” rather than “onshore”  made  further progress (Nov 2015) with the debut of the Fred Olsen’s Windbase project.

FO Windbase with captionIt is being co-developed with  leading offshore wind partners and destined initially for UK and German waters.



Prior to the Mapping Scenario study a Tiree socio -economic studies, SQW1 had  been completed . It was a  desk-bound study completed in 2010 ie prior to  the Tiree Array being adopted by Scottish Govt as a proposed offshore wind development site. It was a composite Argyll study, under the auspices of the Islay Energy Trust, addressing 3 possible Argyll development sites ( Kintyre/Islay/Tiree). It was ‘suspect’.

SQW(2)  was the second socio- economic study and  intended as an input to the  original concept of a  Tiree Master Plan. It also was  bizarrely conducted under the auspices of the Islay Energy Trust.

SQW(2)’s funding award specified community consultation via community public meetings. This did not take place.

NTA consistently challenged SQW(2)’s legitimacy , its methodology and findings. This may have caused the reports original rejection, subsequent re-writes, and 9 month delay in publication, by which time the Tiree Master Plan had morphed into the Scenario Mapping Exercise.

NTA concluded that the  greatest cause for concern in the L&C process was the lack of a substantive independent socio- economic study for Tiree .

The outcome of the Onshore Scenario Mapping Exercise indicated that any further impact study would be be addressed in SPR’s  EIA accompanying SPR’s  consent application. NTA was of the opinion this was a flawed process.

NTA formally stated  to SG and MS-LOT, that it could not be assumed that SPR’s EIA would  be an objective critical assessment of the social impacts of demographic transfer, wage distortion, economic , social and cultural dominance of the proposed Tiree Array.

SPR provided the technical data for the Study. Inexplicably a possible onshore convertor station was excluded from the input data, but,as referred to above, the  community consultation of the draft report made it very clear to SPR that  details of an Onshore Converter Station were expected to be submitted ..and soon ! !

2 weeks after publication of the report SPR presented details of such a Onshore Converter Station .Wind turbine station 6 - larger version-2

It was 5 times bigger than the onshore convertor station SPR had indicated in its original Scopting Request to Marine Scotland

SPR shrugged this off with this classic understatement;- ‘it had turned out bigger than expected’

In 2010  Scottish Government, in sponsoring the TIREE MASTER PLAN  had  proposed the Tiree Array could be  ‘transformational’ . By morphing into an On-Shore Scenario Mapping exercise, NTA suggests this was not the outcome that Tiree expected.

What was never addressed in the Scenario Mapping Exercise was the lead time to develop Scenario 1. The normal planning process for a port-harbour development to meet the requirements of  Scenario 1 would be at  least 5 years.

SPR  had indicated the time-line from the investment decision through turbine selection, construction,to  generation was approx 3 yrs, ergo, the planning process to deliver O&M as per Scenario1 would be required to be initiated 2 years before any investment decision!

Such a sequence does not happen in the real commercial world

SPR insistance from the outset that ‘the masterplan should therefore be decoupled from the project consent process’ made no sense unless SPR  saw it as a potential barrier to consent. 

But it is not rocket science to establish that the time line for the required Tiree  O&M port development for Scenario 1 exceeded the time- line for the Array’s construction to generation

That is why Scenario 1 was never more than a theoretical concept. It was bogus

Subsea technological challenges facing the offshore wind industry, with particular reference to O&M, were recently addressed (autumn 2016) at a UK conference organised by the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI).

Its conference papers suggest that Tiree as the O&M base for the array, would have been impractical

(http://www.nsri.co.uk/uploads/Subsea-Technological-Challenges-in-Offshore-Wind-Report-2.0.pdf .

This Tiree sequence indicated Scenario Mapping had the potential to be a positive input, but its outcomes were dependent on the input data.

In the Tiree case:-

  • SPR chose to be economic with the actualite

  • Socio-economic input data was suspect,

  • Objectivity was suspended. 

The above was written in 2014. Now ,in 2016, we have increasing evidence  of Offshore  Windfarms Developer’s cynical serial deception to local communities, during  pre-consent consultation, of the promotion of their objectives.

Beatrice is a perfect example:- SSE , the developer , in the pre-consent foreplay gave Sutherland CC, and some local communities undertakings re O&M port developments . Post consent these have been reneged. The Community Benefit(CB), agreed by local councilors,  is 1/10th of  Scottish Govt’s minimum demand from any onshore wind farm Developer.



One thought on “Tiree Master Plan

  1. Albert Rogers

    The biggest fear I have about offshore wind turbines is that big sea-birds have no instinctive knowledge of menaces descending upon them from above, or from the side, or up at them, at the speed of a wind turbine blade 90 metres long on a spindle rotating at the seemingly modest 20 rpm. Note that with three blades, there’s one every second. Calculate the speed!
    Worse than that, the body count will be difficult to enumerate. The dead bird falls into the sea.

    But there is a far better solution to the energy problem, and in April 1986 it was proven safe from the only established danger.
    The USA’s Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) was designed to be a renewable, sustainable, clean and safe source of energy. Unlike France’s and Britain’s, it had been a success. The reactor was designed with liquid sodium for the coolant, and metallic fuel rods. Its structure was designed to shut the reactor down passively by if its temperature exceeded a level far below that at which the fuel rods could melt down, and the pool of coolant could (and by test did) remove the heat of fission product radioactivity by simple convection.
    The test was twofold. The first part was to shut down the pumping that circulated the coolant, as happened recently at Fukushima. The reactor core got hot, the structure expanded thermally, and the delicate balance of just-enough-neutrons dropped, because too many neutrons were escaping into the outer blanket. The reactor quietly and harmlessly, with no operator intervention, shut down. That afternoon it was restarted, and the same test was done, except that the secondary cooling facility was shut off. The reactor again shut itself down without damage.
    This was about a week before Chernobyl
    Now the startling thing is, that with such technology, which breeds as much fissile fuel as it consumes, the amount of uranium in the ash of a million tons of coal can give as much energy, or more than, the combustion of the coal produced. Uranium and thorium, both radioactive, are present in a few parts per million in coal.

    Britain, which has a small plutonium surplus problem of about 100 tonnes, has been approached by GE Hitachi to build an advanced reactor at Britain’s Sellafield nuclear site that would convert the UK’s waste plutonium stockpile into a cost-competitive source of power generation.
    That reactor, as I understand it, is a descendant of the IFR. Another American company hopes to license their design, a 100 MW reactor that takes 20 tons of enriched fuel, and replenishes it internally, for a 20 year run per fuel loading. At the end of that time, the fuel core is replaced, and the 8% of the original which has been consumed, is replenished with natural or eve depleted uranium, avoiding the difficult and expensive enrichment process. The fuel core when it is removed already has enough fissile isotope (Pu-239) to drive the reaction for the next 20 years.

    So, there really is no need whatsoever for trying to replace coal, oil, shale oil, or methane by uglifying the beautiful parts of Scotland with these damned turbines.

    Mod’s comment: Scottish Government , unlike UK Govt , has excluded nuclear from Scotland’s future energy planning.The fact that Scotland will continue to buy nuclear is conveniently ignored.

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