ASH co-ordinated the environmental impact assessment and ES for the planned extension to Gordonbush Wind Farm
ASH was commissioned by SSE in 2013 to undertake and co-ordinate an Environmental Impact Assessment, including the production of an Environmental Statement for submission with a Section 36 application to the Scottish Government for an extension to Gordonbush Wind Farm. The application was granted consent by Scottish Ministers in September 2017 for 15 turbines. Since obtaining consent, SSE took the decision to vary the consent under Section 36C of the Electricity Act 1989. The main purpose of the variation was to permit a proposed reduction in the number of turbines and an increase in the tip height of the remaining turbines.
Screening and Scoping
Coordination and preparation of environmental statement
Gordonbush Wind Farm is located on Gordonbush Estate, approximately 9.5km to the north-west of Brora, Sutherland. The wind farm became operational in June 2012 and comprises a total of 35 turbines at a tip height of 110m.
The consented extension would comprise a further 15 turbines, 12 of which would have a maximum tip height of 130m, whilst the remaining 3 turbines would have a maximum tip height of 115m. The design of the proposed extension utilises existing infrastructure from the operational Gordonbush Wind Farm where possible to minimise potential environmental effects. This includes the use of the existing substation for the grid connection; existing access tracks and two of the original borrow pits.
The application to vary the consent seeks to reduce the number of consented turbines from 15 to 11, whilst increasing the maximum tip height of the remaining turbines from 130m to 149.9m.
What we did
In support of the original Section 36 Application, ASH was responsible for co-ordinating the inputs of specialist consultants under the topics of Landscape and Visual, Cultural Heritage, Ecology, Ornithology, Hydrology, Hydrogeology and Geology, Traffic, Noise, Planning, Socio-Economics and Tourism, culminating in the production of an Environmental Statement.
The Section 36C application to reduce the number of turbines to 11, whilst increasing the tip height of those remaining to 149.9m, was accompanied by a new Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIA Report). The scope of the EIA Report was established through consultation with statutory consultees, and focussed on the likely significant effects of the proposed changes, notably landscape and visual effects, traffic and transport, noise, ornithology and cultural heritage. The assessment of the proposed varied development confirmed that the likely significant effects for the revised scheme would be largely the same as for the consented development, with some reduction in landscape and visual effects due to the removal of 4 turbines.
The Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Section 36C application were submitted to Scottish Ministers in January 2019.
A decision from the Scottish Ministers is currently awaited.
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