Client story

JLL plays vital role in approval of windfarms in Orkney

JLL promotes clean energy by securing consents for two windfarms in Costa Head and Hesta Head, with a combined generating capacity sufficient to power up to 30,000 homes per year.


Orkney, Scotland



The challenge

Hoolan Energy commissioned JLL Planning to lead the consenting strategy and associated planning applications for the Costa Head and Hesta Head windfarms in Orkney. The project represented an ambitious commitment to the Islands and sought to support the Scottish Government’s strategic objective to facilitate a significant grid upgrade in Orkney, strengthening the resilience of the national electricity network.

With over 50 years of combined experience in the renewable energy sector, including solar, battery, transmission, onshore and offshore wind, our Planning team has advised on over 3.5 GW of installed capacity across the UK: enough to power over 1 million homes. We are further supported by a range of commercial experts across the UK, including our bespoke, market-leading Energy and Infrastructure Advisory team who specialise in renewables finance-raising, mergers and acquisitions, valuations and project appraisals. This expertise complements our planning and consenting strategies to ensure that our solutions are centred on commercial viability.

Steven Black, Director, Planning and Development Scotland, JLL

Orkney’s rich ecological diversity, extensive cultural heritage designations and unique landscape provided a number of challenges and opportunities in the design process. Furthermore, in order to respond to the wider strategic phasing of the grid upgrades, the planning strategy had to be flexible, steering the consenting process from the project outset to limit restrictive conditions with respect to programmed delivery.

How we achieved it

Our Scottish Planning team is a specialist provider of planning services for energy generation and transmission projects throughout the UK, helping developers and landowners secure consent for clean and renewable energy developments and in turn maximising the benefits and long-term value from technologies such as on- and offshore wind energy, solar, hydro and battery.

Given our extensive experience across the energy sector and deep understanding of environmental policy and climate change objectives, we were able to influence the consenting strategy from the project outset, working alongside the client, design teams and environmental specialists to coordinate a scheme which responded positively to the local environment.

As a result of this iterative design process and despite the sensitive nature of the development sites, significant effects on the environment were substantially reduced and consenting risk focused primarily around landscape and visual setting. However, our planning policy statement provided a robust assessment of the proposals: promoting their importance in the viability of the wider grid upgrades and highlighting the critical role of renewables in responding to the climate emergency and contributing to associated net zero carbon targets. This approach ultimately tipped the planning balance in favour of the proposed development.

Overall, our market-leading presence around the UK, especially at Appeal and in the Inquiry process, as well as our strong network of key decision-makers and regulators, enabled us to predict potential consenting risks in advance and influence design amendments, negotiate solutions and form robust policy strategies to positively influence the consenting process.

The results

Despite being located in sensitive environments, the JLL Planning team achieved consent for both projects through Appeal to the Scottish Government. Furthermore, due to delays in grid connection and the enhancement of turbine technology since the original consents, JLL subsequently supported the client in providing enhanced flexibility to their approved consents; extending and varying their permission through Appeal, resulting in cost and programme-efficient solutions.

In addition to the clean energy benefits, the operation of the proposed windfarms has the potential to result in a Gross Value Added (GVA) income of just under £5 million and create up to 90 jobs both directly and through the local supply chain, over its 25-year lifetime.