SSE Renewables adapts Berwick Bank plans for seabirds

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 11/10/2021 SSE Renewables
SSE Renewables this week took a step forward in the planning process for its Berwick Bank wind farm, revealing how it plans to reduce the impact of the site on seabird populations.

Following feedback from stakeholders, SSE Renewables revealed that it will not be looking to develop the entire area available for
Berwick Bank. Instead, it will reduce the overall size of the site by around 10% compared to the area available for development in order to mitigate the potential impact on the local seabird populations.

Berwick Bank is also proposing to raise the minimum height of the turbine blades from 22m to 37m above sea level to address for bird passage through the site.

The news comes following the completion earlier this year of a 24-month aerial survey programme conducted by SSE Renewables and Hi Def Aerial Surveying. The survey consisted of 300 hours of flight time across 5,000 square km, seven times the size of East Lothian.

Alex Meredith Berwick Bank Project Director commented: "Accelerating our efforts to decarbonise the electricity system must be done in harmony with our natural environment.

For that reason, we have taken the decision to reduce the area we will develop by around ten percent, to provide large gaps between existing wind farms and the Berwick Bank Wind Farm site, so to prevent a barrier being created between seabird feeding grounds and breeding habitats."

Alex Meredith continues: “Our surveys have shown that by increasing the air gap between the sea and the lowest blade height to 37m should have a significant positive impact on potential collisions.

“With these measures we want to minimize any potential impact that Berwick Bank Wind Farm has on the local seabird populations, particularly kittiwake and guillemot whilst also recognising that climate change is a key threat to these species”

Martin Scott Hi Def Commercial Director said: "Reducing impacts to birds has been a major priority for the project throughout. It is known that higher densities of birds fly closer to the sea surface. By creating a larger airgap this increases the likelihood of birds being able to pass safely under the turbines and reduces the potential for collision risk with the moving blades.”

“The changes made to the design have been included in the Scoping Report for the Berwick Bank Wind Farm site, delivered this week to Marine Scotland."

With a potential output of 4.1GW,
Berwick Bank is already at an advanced stage of development and has a planning application which is expected to go to the Scottish Government in spring 2022. If consented and greenlit for construction, it could begin generating electricity in the second half of this decade.

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