Donald Trump tried to stop it but the new European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre off the coast of Aberdeenshire could be major boost for Scotland’s economy.
When Donald Trump complained all the way to the UK Supreme Court that the view from his links golf course in Aberdeenshire would be spoiled by wind turbines one-and-a-half miles out to sea, he appears to have done so without any sense of irony at all.
If such vistas were sacred, then the future president would not have allowed his business empire to build a 15ft earth wall obscuring the sea view of David and Moira Milne, after they refused to sell their home to become part of Trump International Golf Links. The Milnes responded by flying the Mexican flag.
At yesterday’s inauguration ceremony for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre – which includes the world’s most powerful turbines – Nicola Sturgeon offered another rejoinder to Trump without actually naming him. The “beauty” of the wind farm would surely win over even the “sternest critic”, she quipped, tongue firmly in cheek.
The 11 turbines, which began generating electricity in July, are expected to produce enough energy to power the equivalent of nearly 80,000 homes a year.
The First Minister said the centre, designed to test new technology, would help secure Scotland’s place as a “world leader in renewable energy generally, but in offshore wind in particular”.
And there are good reasons for her optimism. The North Sea oil industry means Scotland has a wealth of expertise in heavy engineering at sea, always a challenging environment. And Scotland also has a quarter of all the offshore wind resource in Europe.
The UK Government has taken considerable flak from environmentalists for discouraging onshore wind farms. But part of the reason for fostering offshore wind instead has been the chance to take a lead in a burgeoning global industry, having largely missed out on the onshore revolution with companies in countries like Denmark and Germany stealing a march.
And Scotland is by far the best place in the UK for the offshore wind energy industry to flourish. So Holyrood and Westminster need to recognise it is in their mutual interest to work together to make this dream a reality for the good of us all.
Except, of course, President Trump, but he may be pre-occupied by other issues, not least ruining the views of Californians, Texans and Mexicans with another, rather bigger, wall.