4.1 GW Scottish Offshore Wind Project Adapts to Protect Birds

SSE Renewables plans to reduce the size of the area over which the 4.1 GW Berwick Bank offshore wind project in Scotland will be developed to protect local seabird populations.

A visualization of the Berwick Bank Wind Farm; Source: SSE Renewables

The developer said it will reduce the overall size of the site by around ten per cent compared to the area available for development.

The decision was made following feedback from stakeholders and despite soaring prices for seabed in recent leasing processes, SSE Renewables said.

Berwick Bank is also proposing to raise the minimum height of the turbine blades from 22 metres to 37 metres 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.

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The survey, consisting of 300 hours of flight time, across 5,000 square km, seven times the size of East Lothian, is believed to be the largest of its kind ever undertaken.

”Accelerating our efforts to decarbonise the electricity system must be done in harmony with our natural environment,” Berwick Bank Project Director Alex Meredith said.

”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. 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.”

The report has been submitted digitally and will also be supported by a web-based platform, SSE Renewables said.

Situated 40 kilometres off the east coast of Scotland, in the outer Firth of Forth, Berwick Bank has been in development for ten years.

When complete, Berwick Bank Wind Farm will be capable of generating enough renewable energy to power over five million homes, equivalent to all of Scotland’s households twice over, and avoiding eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year – similar to removing all of Scotland’s annual car emissions, according to the developer.

SSE Renewables has recently combined the 2.3 GW Berwick Bank and the 1.85 GW Marr Bank offshore wind projects into one development – the Berwick Bank Wind Farm. The planning application for the project is expected to be submitted in Spring 2022.

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