Council hears details of offshore wind farm plans

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East Lammermuir Community Councillors have been updated on the plans for Scotland’s first major offshore wind farm.

The plan for the Neart na Gaoithe project, 28 miles out to sea from Torness, has gone through several changes, and faced the RSPB’s objection all offshore farms.

The offshore turbines are to be connected to the national grid through the Crystal Rig wind farm.

The community council recently welcomed Ewan Walker, environment and consents manager for Mainstream Renewable Power and Rosie Scurr, the company’s environment manager, to its October meeting.

They gave a summary of the changing situation. Soon after Neart na Gaiothe was awarded consent, the RSPB raised a request for a Judicial Review of the Scottish Government’s decision-making process relating to the scheme and three other offshore wind farm projects. These challenges were heard at the Court of Session and a decision is expected later this year.

The RSPB object to all offshore projects in Scotland as they are unsure how birds interact with offshore wind turbines; they are also concerned about the accumulative affects, any possible displacement and the impact on birds. The government and renewable companies are funding independent research and hope to have the completed report available in 2016.

An application for a minor variation to the offshore consent was recently submitted to the Scottish Government, to include flexibility to use different turbines to those stated in the consent. The turbines would be the same dimensions as those originally consented but this change would allow the use of turbines with a higher individual generation capacity, enabling the same overall output with fewer turbines.