No Tiree Array (NTA)

We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children

Tiree Master Plan

Tiree Master Plan – This page takes you through what was grandly offered as the TIREE MASTER PLAN

Tiree Master Plan – Subsequently it  morphed into a much lesser Tiree Onshore Scenario Mapping Exercise.

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

Tiree Master Plan – 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,to be 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 a 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 a Tiree Master Plan, yet no comparable Islay Master Plan was ever initiated. 

Tiree Master Plan – 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 imposing an 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 this  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 the planning exercise and its inadmissibility and irrelevance to the consenting process.

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

Tiree Master Plan – The subsequent consulting process, and the Final Report were exemplary.

In NTA’s opinion this was the finest work to input, and inform,on the proposed Tiree Array.

This process  provided insight into the 4 possible “ final solutions ”

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 of which 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 Domino Qiu Qiu 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.

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. SPR expected  Scottish Govt /A&B to fund any such port  development .

NTA consistently challenged their evangelicalism . In reducing possible economic benefit for Tiree by promoting O&M  all parties ignored two fundamental points :-

  • O&M (incl and its base) was the decision of the turbine supplier, NOT the Developer
  • 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”  .

The study confirmed that Scenario 1, ie Tiree  shore based O&M, was the only option that suggested possible meaningful economic development, but in doing so 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.

Tiree Master Plan – Subsequent O&M development has proven this to be the case.

Tiree Master Plan
Siemens:- the major turbine supplier to offshore windfarms  contracted  in 2013  two O&M vessels.with 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 :-

Tiree Master Plan
Tiree Master Plan

Earlier 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 

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

Tiree Master Plan

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.

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.

Tiree Master Plan
This O&M vessel , ordered in Oct 2015 for delivery 2017, will service a five year contract from DONG Energy to service their Race Bank Offshore Wind Farm located 17 miles off the Lincs-Norfolk coast

Tiree Master Plan – 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 Developers and Govt to maintain this mirage to project the Tiree Array as offering long term economic benefit for Tiree.

The trajectory to wards O&M operating from specialised O&M vessels operating from 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)


And so this trajectory continues, with Dong contracting (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

The  trajectory continues with MHI-Vestas 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,


 It will service the MHI-Vestas turbines @ the Belgian  Nobelwind and Belwind offshore windfarms. Note MHI-Vestas  O&M contract is for 15 years.

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.


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

The vessel, Bibby WaveMaster 1, will undertake offshore wind project work in the North Sea.

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


This trajectory, and O&M contractual arrangements, confirms NTA’s assertion, at the outset of its campaign, that the O&M modus operandi and location  was not the decision of the Developer( ie SPR) but a 3rd party post -consent decision ie Tiree to be the O&M base, was a potential illusion, some may say deception, at the outset 

With consent  and development of other UK offshore windfarms, re-financing  and  change of ownership/developer has become become a development norm. International banks specialising in infrastructure finance have taken considerable market-share in offshore wind farm investment . As a consequence O&M, vested with the turbine manufacturer/supplier, is not only the industry norm, but is a pre-requisite of such investment banks.

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.


It 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 even 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 its 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 which would accompany SPR’s  consent application. NTA was of the opinion, and formally stated it 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 .

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 for Scenario 1. The normal planning process for Scenario 1 would take at least 5 years.

Scenario 1 required a major Tiree harbour development which in turn required £20-30mill investment. However SPR indicated the time-line from the investment decision through turbine selection, construction, and  generation was approx 3 yrs. So the decision to opt for Scenario 1 would be required to be taken 2 years prior to the Developers making their FID (Final Investment Decision). But the normal time- line for an offshore  windfarm  was  the FID  was made 15 months to 2 years after the Consent decision . Turbine selection decision is a post FID decision.No wonder SPR insisted from the outset that “the masterplan should therefore be decoupled from the project consent process.

Scenario 1 was never more than a theoretical concept

As an aside, the Nov2014-Feb 2015  farrago re Calmac’s Stornoway-Ullapool service hi-lights Scottish Govt ‘s inability to deliver port infrastructure to meet project time-lines.

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.