A pioneering wind farm off Aberdeen will generate more than £100 million economic benefits for the local area a study has found, writes Mark Williamson.

Specialists calculate the Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm will provide a boost to the city and the wider Aberdeenshire economy worth well over £5m annually over a 20-year period.

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The benefits are expected to include the creation of around 50 new jobs a year in the local supply chain.

The findings of the study will boost hopes that the development of the renewable energy sector to provide a big boost to the economy in Scotland.

With just 11 turbines the Aberdeen Bay wind farm is a relatively small operation. It was developed as the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, to complete test and demonstration work.

The operator of the wind farm, Vattenfall, noted that the forecast that 800 to 1000 jobs would be created was considerably higher than the 660 that were predicted during the project’s early development.

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Alexandra Richards, operations and maintenance manager at the wind farm, said: “There’s a tendency to assume that the opportunities linked to wind farms begin and end with construction. But as this study shows, the main advantages for the community and local economy come from the long-term operations and maintenance phases, which generate significant amounts of spending and jobs.”

The study was completed by Oxford Brookes University. It is part of an ongoing research programme at the deployment centre.

Professor John Glasson, research lead for the Oxford Brookes University team, said:

“The impacts of offshore wind farms on the human environment, and especially on local and regional communities adjacent to such projects, is an under-researched area.

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“Such communities are often suffering greatly from the decline in traditional industries, such as shipbuilding, fishing and tourism."

He added: “Human environmental impacts include a wide range of social and economic issues. However, a lack of knowledge on the actual impacts of such projects can greatly hamper case management.”