Drone Hill windfarm work gets underway

AFTER planning approval was granted for the development back in December 2008, Your Energy have started initial construction work on a windfarm at Drone Hill near Coldingham.

The proposal originally submitted was for 16 wind turbines with a height of 102 metres, but was changed in February 2007 to 22 shorter turbines, and was approved nearly two years later.

Once in place, the turbines, each 76 metres high with a capacity of 1.3MW, are expected to generate approximately 65,950,000 units of electricity a year, equivalent to the average annual consumption of 14,700 households.

But a spokesperson for developers Your Energy, who are following on the work done by PI Renewables, said that it would be a few months yet before it would be immediately obvious that the windfarm was taking shape.

Construction staff have moved on site this week to commence ground work, including the erection of two temporary met masts on the southern part of the site on Coldingham Moor. These will help gauge wind conditions during construction.

The site office is also now in place, its location being carefully selected to avoid areas with a high likelihood of nesting birds.

And work on the access track to the turbines has begun, with a wheel wash being installed at the site entrance to minimise the impact on adjoining public roads.

The roads used will be re-surveyed upon completion of the project and Your Energy said they have committed to returning the routes to the same (if not better) than their original condition - free of pot holes, ruts, high spots, etc.

The first nine turbines are expected to be delivered to the site in October/November and be installed and tested by February next year before the second phase of turbine delivery two months later which will see the remaining 13 turbines on site.

Once these are installed and tested, it is hoped that the windfarm, owned by AES Wind Generation, will be operational by August 2012.

In the intervening period, talks with the local community are planned to discuss how the £1 million community fund associated with the windfarm can be best spent over the 25 years the turbines will be in place, with £40,000 available each year to communities in close proximity for worthwhile projects, ideally concerned with energy-saving measures and environmental education.

The Scottish Community Foundation has been appointed to assist with this process and their spokesperson, Daljit Singh commented: “We are delighted to be able to work with the local community to manage the fund.

“This will be the fifth wind farm fund we manage in the Scottish Borders, and we have seen the huge benefits these make to rural communities.”

Steve Hunter, senior development manager for Your Energy added: “The team have worked hard to get us to this point, and our focus now is to keep to the timetable and ensure the construction phase proceeds smoothly.

“A big part of this is keeping the community informed at all times.”

The windfarm site has been registered with the Considerate Constructors scheme, meaning a commitment to be considerate and good neighbours during construction.

One way residents will be kept abreast of developments at Drone Hill is via a dedicated website: www.dronehillwindfarm.com which will feature a regular construction blog, with the first entry already in place to show the progress made so far.

Visitors to the website can contact the construction team directly with questions and comments and subscribe to receive updates on the construction process, and community fund news.