An application to build the UK’s largest offshore wind farm, capable of providing enough electricity to power more than five million homes, has commenced determination.
Berwick Bank, located roughly 38 kilometres off the East Lothian coast of Scotland, is set to generate up to 4.1GW of power, making it the largest offshore wind farm planning application to be submitted in the UK to date and one of the largest globally.
The consent process for the onshore elements of the project has now opened and is being considered by East Lothian Council. This process runs alongside the offshore consent process, which kicked off in December 2022 and is being considered by the Scottish Government. A final decision by authorities is expected later in 2023.
The company behind the project, SSE Renewables, expects Berwick Bank to provide multiple benefits for the economy, environment and energy security and act as a major catalyst for supply chain investment for Scotland.
Berwick Bank Project Director Alex Meredith said: “Berwick Bank is a win-win for the climate and nature. If we consent Berwick, Scotland, will be leading the world in the delivery of offshore wind energy, and we will provide a long-term solution to help Scotland’s iconic seabirds thrive. This is an opportunity we must progress rapidly.”
The team behind the project have based the design on fixed-bottom technology so that it can be delivered quickly at scale.
“We’re aiming to begin delivering the first energy from 2027, so it’s a very short lead time for a project of this size,” adds Meredith.
“We will be urging the planning authorities to consider the application quickly to allow us to deliver our largest wind farm to date in the shortest time possible.
“Berwick Bank can be a massive step forward in the delivery of renewable capacity and lessen reliance on fossil fuels and volatile imported energy supplies.
“The world needs more renewable energy, and we are committed to helping meet Scotland and the UK’s net zero targets. Our proposals also focus on managing the fishing of sand eels better in Scotland to protect our most vulnerable seabird colonies.”
Once complete, which could be by 2030, Berwick Bank will be a critical contributor towards meeting the Scottish Government’s goal of 11GW of new offshore wind energy supply by the same year.
A recent economic impact study carried out by independent renewable energy consultants, BVG Associates (BVGA), has shown that at peak construction in 2026, the project could create around 4,650 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Scotland and 9,300 in the UK – adding an estimated £8.3 billion to the UK economy as a whole over the lifetime of the project.
As part of the proposals, SSE Renewables has proposed measures that could boost seabird populations in the North Sea while tackling the energy crisis and the climate emergency.
Studies submitted with the application indicate that vulnerable seabird populations could increase in numbers by several thousand birds annually if proposed compensation measures are implemented.
The planning applications and CPOfor Berwick Bank Wind Farm can be viewed in full at www.berwickbank.com
Berwick Bank Wind Farm Limited has also formally promoted a Compulsory Purchase Order (“CPO”) for specific rights in land that are required for its onshore infrastructure.
The CPO process runs in tandem alongside the planning application seeking permission to approve the construction for Berwick Bank Wind Farm’s offshore and onshore infrastructure.
Berwick Bank Wind Farm’s primary aim is to reach voluntary agreements with all impacted landowners, and the project team is encouraged by the ongoing negotiations to date.
The onshore element of an offshore wind development is often overlooked. Still, it is critical to ensure the project can connect into the national grid to transport the clean, renewable energy generated to homes across the UK.
Image source: Courtesy of SSE Renewables
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