Environmentalists have welcomed the submission of a planning application to install two 'floating' wind turbines in the seas off the Dounreay nuclear plant, now being decommissioned.

The turbines would be fixed on to a single semi-submersible platform, 3.7 miles off the Caithness coast in the waters of the Pentland Firth. They would have a total capacity of eight to 12 megawatts. A subsea cable being would have to be laid and a substation built onshore.

Swedish company Hexicon appointed WS Atkins as its engineering partner last year to help design the demonstrator project. Another company Dounreay Tri, has been formed to guide the project through the planning process. The application is now with Scottish Ministers.

It is hoped to have the turbines commissioned and connected to the grid by 2018.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said:

"This proposal will of course have to go through all the usual planning processes. However, successfully developing floating turbines could enable Scotland and other nations to secure even more clean power from offshore wind in the future.

"There's also something quite symbolic in the fact that clean renewable electricity might one day be being generated within a stone's throw of the failed and polluting nuclear reactor site at Dounreay.

"While nuclear power and fossils fuels should be consigned to history, with the right political support for offshore wind and other technologies, Scotland is well placed to become the EU's first fully renewable electricity nation. This is an aspiration we hope the Scottish Government will aim for its forthcoming energy strategy."

Meanwhile in May it was confirmed the construction of the world’s largest floating wind farm would begin off the Aberdeenshire coast, following the Crown Estate granting a lease to the Norwegian multinational oil and gas company Statoil.

It is scheduled to begin generating electricity by the end of next year.

The Hywind project will see five 6MW turbines deployed in deeper water than any previous offshore wind turbines around the UK coast. They will be at a site called Buchan Deep, and the closest turbine to the shore will be less than 16 miles from Peterhead.