SSE Generation Ltd (SSEG), a subsidiary of SSE plc, is proposing to construct a new onshore wind farm to generate renewable electricity from wind power.

The proposed Cloiche Wind Farm is located on Glendoe and Garrogie Estates, adjacent to the operational Stronelairg Wind Farm and Glendoe Hydroelectric Scheme and approximately 11 kilometres (km) to the south-east of Fort Augustus.

The total installed capacity of the Proposed Development would be over 150MW. This would comprise of 36 turbines with a maximum tip height of 149.9 metres (m).

The Proposed Development comprises two clusters; an eastern cluster and a western cluster, and would include on-site access tracks (of which approximately 26km are new access tracks and approximately 29km are existing tracks where upgrades may be undertaken), a new on-site substation and a network of underground cabling to connect each wind turbine to the on-site substation.

One of the benefits of constructing and operating a wind farm in this location would be the capacity to make use of existing infrastructure and access tracks created for Glendoe Hydroelectric Scheme and Stronelairg Wind Farm, as well as the experience gained from construction of both of these projects.

Access to the Proposed Development would be taken off the B862 utilising the existing haul road through Glendoe Estate constructed originally as part of Glendoe Hydroelectric Scheme, and utilised and upgraded as required during the construction of Stronelairg Wind Farm. Other existing infrastructure from the recent construction of Stronelairg Wind Farm (such as site compounds), would be utilised where possible or practicable as part of the Proposed Development.

The Need for the Project

On 28th April 2019, Scotland’s First Minister declared a climate emergency. Following this declaration, the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed by the Scottish Parliament to amend the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The 2019 Act commits Scotland to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045 at the latest. This compares with the UK Government target of net-zero by 2050.

The Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy, sets out the target of achieving the “equivalent of 50% of the energy for Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption… from renewable sources” by 2030.

In order to meet this and wider renewable energy targets by 2030, approximately 17GW of installed capacity will be required. The document recognises that onshore wind offers the lowest cost renewable technology and is a vital component of the renewables industry in Scotland. As such, it will be a key part of achieving these targets.

The Scottish Government’s Onshore Wind Policy Statement, recognises the need to deliver new onshore wind farms subsidy free and acknowledges the technology shift towards larger turbines.

The Proposed Development, as a generator of renewable electricity from wind, would contribute to these targets by adding over 150MW of installed onshore wind capacity.

Construction Programme and Environmental Management

A typical construction period for a wind farm of this size is estimated to be between 24 and 36 months.

On-going consultation with the local community during the construction of the Proposed Development will be an important consideration. For Stronelairg Wind Farm, a community liaison group was set up which provides the local community with information about key construction activities and a mechanism by which concerns from within the local community can be shared and discussed. A similar working group would be established during the construction of the Proposed Development.

Prior to construction works, sensitive ecological areas, and other specific sensitive locations (e.g. watercourses) would be marked out as appropriate on site by specialist advisers in order to avoid unnecessary encroachment and protect sensitive areas during construction. A Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) would be implemented, in agreement with The Highland Council, SNH and SEPA.

The wind farm is anticipated to have an operational lifespan of 50 years.

Design Evolution

Through the design process, consideration was given to a range of factors, including technical constraints, environmental constraints, economic factors and health and safety. These were determined by desk and field studies, consultation with stakeholders and the knowledge and experience gained from construction of Stronelairg Wind Farm and Glendoe Hydroelectric Scheme.

Environmental considerations during the design process included:

  • Landscape character and visual amenity, particularly in relation to the Cairngorms National Park, Special Landscape Areas and Wild Land Areas;
  • Sites designated for natural heritage, in particular the Monadhliath Special Area of Conservation (SAC) adjacent to the development site;
  • Sensitive habitats, such as areas of deep peat;
  • Protected species; and
  • Effects on watercourses, surface water and groundwater.

Technical consideration during the design process included:

  • The steepness of slopes;
  • Peat depth;
  • Watercourse crossings; and
  • Wind resource.

The EIA Process

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process that considers how a proposed development will change existing environmental conditions and what the consequences of such changes will be. It therefore informs both the project design and decision-making processes.

An EIA Report has been prepared for the Proposed Development in accordance with The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017, referred to as the ‘EIA Regulations’.

The EIA Report provides an assessment of the likely significant effects of the Proposed Development against the existing environmental baseline conditions of the site, and proposes mitigation measures to minimise potential effects.

The EIA Report comprises seven volumes, available to download from the bottom of this webpage:

  • Volume 1: Non-Technical Summary;
  • Volume 2: Main Report;
  • Volume 3: Figures;
  • Volume 3A: Landscape and Visual Photomontages (Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Methodology);
  • Volume 3B: Landscape and Visual Photomontages (The Highland Council (THC) Methodology);
  • Volume 4: Technical Appendices; and
  • Volume 5: Confidential Annex. (comprising sensitive enviromental information and available to relevant authorities only).

A Planning Statement is also submitted in support of the application.

Scoping and Consultation

An EIA should describe the likely significant effects of a proposed development on the environment. An EIA Scoping Opinion was sought from the Scottish Ministers on the environmental information to be provided in the EIA Report.

A pre-application meeting was held with the ECU, The Highland Council and other statutory consultees in November 2019 to present the final layout and advise how it had evolved in consideration of environmental and technical constraints.

A Gate Check Report was issued to the Scottish Ministers and key stakeholders in December 2019 which outlined consultations with statutory and non-statutory consultees, engagement (or proposed engagement) with the local community and how matters raised during the Scoping process have been dealt with in the EIA Report.

Public exhibition events were held within the local area through January and February 2020 to allow members of the public to obtain information and return comments on the Proposed Development. Meetings were also held with local community councils to provide updates as the project progressed. The feedback received from these events and meetings is included within a Pre-Application Consultation Report.

Landscape and Visual Impact

Introduction

A landscape and visual impact assessment (LVIA) has been undertaken for the Proposed Development, considering potential effects of the Proposed Development on landscape character, designated and protected landscapes, and also visual amenity.

The vast majority of effects on landscape character, landscape designations and other protected landscapes resulting from the Proposed Development would not be significant. Significant effects would be limited to very localised effects within 2km of the Proposed Development and not more than 8km away, generally affecting small, discrete parts of the landscape.

Twenty representative viewpoints (VPs) have formed the basis of the assessment of effects on visual amenity. The assessment also considered potential visual effects on residential areas within the study area, and transport and recreational routes.

The visual effect for the vast majority of visual receptor locations, including all residential locations, were identified as being not significant. Potential longer-term significant effects were identified for two representative VPs where the Proposed Development would appear more prominent (VP7: Carn a’Chuilin; and VP18: Loch na Lairige)

No significant cumulative landscape effects have been identified when considering the addition of the Proposed Development to the baseline cumulative scenario of existing and proposed wind farm sites.

A significant cumulative visual effect has been identified for one representative VP (VP7, Carn a’ Chuilinn).

An assessment has been carried out which considers the potential impacts and their associated effects on ecological features, such as designated nature conservation sites, habitats and protected species.

Surveys included an extended Phase 1 habitat survey and National Vegetation Classification (NVC) surveys.  The dominant habitats were wet modified bog, blanket bog and wet heath. Five potential Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems (GWDTE) were recorded but these are unlikely to be groundwater dependent in the setting of the study area. Protected species surveys identified the presence of numerous water vole burrows, two potential otter holts and a resting place, mountain hare, brown trout, European eel, common frog, an unidentified newt, common lizard and red deer.

A deer management plan is proposed to minimise potentially significant effects on the Monadhliath Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as a result of deer potentially being displaced from the site during construction. This, together with standard working methods and good practice measures during construction, have ensured that no significant residual effects are predicted.

An assessment of the potential for effects of the Proposed Development on aviation interests has been carried out.

The Proposed Development is within a low priority military low flying area; however, it is anticipated that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) would request a suitable lighting scheme, for example 25 candela or infrared lighting on cardinal / perimeter turbines.

Following the implementation of a suitable MOD lighting scheme there would be no effects on aviation as a physical obstruction.

Radar modelling confirms that no part of the Proposed Development is likely to be detected by any civil or military radar.

No significant effects have been identified in the assessment of aviation issues.

A noise assessment has been undertaken to determine the likely significant noise effects from the operational phase of the Proposed Development.

The noise assessment has been undertaken in three stages, which involved setting the Total Noise Limits (TNL) (which are limits for noise from all wind farms in the area) at the nearest noise sensitive receptors (approximately 5km away), predicting the likely effects of the Proposed Development (undertaking a cumulative noise assessment where required) and setting Site Specific Noise Limits (SSNL) for the Proposed Development.

Predicted cumulative operational noise levels indicate that for noise sensitive receptors assessed, cumulative wind turbine noise (which considers noise predictions from all nearby proposed, consented or operational wind turbines and the Proposed Development) would meet the TNL at all NALs.

Predicted operational noise levels from the Proposed Development indicate that for noise sensitive receptors neighbouring the Proposed Development, wind turbine noise from the Proposed Development would meet the SSNL at all NALs.

The use of SSNL would ensure that the Proposed Development could operate concurrently with other proposed, consented or operational turbines in the area and would also ensure that the Proposed Development’s individual contribution could be measured and enforced if required.

Should the Proposed Development receive consent, the final choice of wind turbine would have to meet the SSNL presented in this assessment.

An assessment of the potential effects on the hydrological and hydrogeological environment associated with the construction, operation and decommissioning of the Proposed Development has been carried out. Such effects could include potential impacts on water quality, and assessment of risks from chemical pollution or sedimentation, flood risk, flow regimes, GWDTE and Private Water Supplies.

Taking into account measures that shall be detailed in a site CEMP and the implementation of best practice measures as described in SEPA guidance, and the proposed installation of appropriate Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) measures, the assessment concludes that there would be no significant residual effects on the hydrology and hydrogeology of the development site during the construction, operational or decommissioning phases.

Potential effects in relation to geology and carbon balance are most likely during construction and may relate to effects on peat stability and excavation. A detailed peat probing exercise and the results of a peat slide risk assessment have informed the layout of the Proposed Development.

The assessment undertaken has identified the presence of sensitive receptors within the Site, namely areas of nationally important carbon rich soils with priority peatland habitat (Class 1 or 2).

As part of the conceptual design, the disruption of peat has been minimised by avoiding areas of thick peat deposits as far as practicable, and the re-use of excavated peat would be maximised in accordance with best practice management.

The potential construction effects identified have been assessed and would not be significant in terms of the EIA Regulations.

An assessment of the archaeological and cultural heritage value of the site and the direct and indirect likely significant effects on archaeological features and heritage assets resulting from the construction, operation and decommissioning of the Proposed Development has been carried out.

The Proposed Development has been designed to avoid direct impacts on known heritage assets where possible, and there would be no direct impacts on any known assets within the site.

All known heritage assets within 50m of the proposed working areas, including all areas to be used by construction vehicles, would be fenced off under archaeological supervision prior to construction.

Potential indirect effects on the settings of designated heritage assets have been considered in detail as part of the assessment. No significant effects are predicted.

Based on an indicative minimum installed capacity of 154.8MW, it was estimated that during the development and construction phase, the Proposed Development could generate up to:

  • £28.1 million Gross Value Added (GVA) and 412 job years in Highland; and
  • £64.4 million GVA and 983 job years in Scotland as a whole.

It was estimated that each year during the operation and maintenance phase the Proposed Development would generate:

  • £1.4 million GVA and 16 jobs in Highland; and
  • £2.5 million GVA and 29 jobs in Scotland as a whole.

It is expected that there would be community benefit funding associated with the Proposed Development, which would build on the existing Stronelairg Wind Farm Community Fund.

During the construction and operation of the Proposed Development there would likely be negligible effects on recreation and tourism assets in the study areas.

Throughout its operation, the Proposed Development would also contribute to local public finances and in this way supporting the provision of public services locally. It was estimated that the Proposed Development could contribute £1.8 million each year in non-domestic rates.

An assessment of potential effects on land use and recreation amenity has been undertaken for the Proposed Development, considering how existing land uses may be directly or indirectly affected by construction and operation of the Proposed Development. It also considers the potential to which recreational activities which currently take place may be deterred.

The assessment has concluded that the Proposed Development would result in temporary effects to sections of three recreational routes (Scottish Hill Track 235, the Monadhliath Trail and the route to access the Corbett Carn a’  Chulinn) through conflict with construction of access tracks or their use by construction traffic. These effects are anticipated to be Moderate and temporary, reducing to non-significant levels during operation of the Proposed Development. However, the employment of mitigation measures, including an Outdoor Access Management Plan, would ensure accesses to the existing walking routes are maintained while ensuring the safety of the public and construction staff.

All other effects are anticipated to be not significant and no long-term significant effects to land use and recreation are predicted.

Ornithology

Breeding bird surveys confirmed the presence of populations of breeding golden plover and dunlin within the western and eastern clusters. The western survey area was also used by breeding greenshank in 2019 and there are previous records of breeding activity in the vicinity of the eastern and western survey areas.

In the surrounding area (i.e. >2km from the Proposed Development) there are up to five golden eagle territories, most of which were occupied by breeding pairs during 2018-2019. This is a population of regional importance. The extent to which the Proposed Development is used by golden eagle (hunting, display, territorial interactions etc.) has been a key focus of the baseline surveys and layout design.

The use of waterbodies within the survey area was also monitored regularly during bird surveys. Red-throated diver (which breed in the surrounding area, i.e. >2km from the Proposed Development) were recorded occasionally using Glendoe Reservoir as were whooper swan and common scoter (which also breed in the surrounding area).

The design of the Proposed Development has been modified to reduce the potential effects on sensitive species. Particular consideration has been given to moving wind turbines away from areas of importance to breeding golden eagle and greenshank.

No significant direct habitat loss was predicted for any species, taking into consideration the scale of permanent habitat loss from the construction of the wind farm.

The risk of bird mortality from collision with the proposed wind turbines has been assessed. Whilst collisions are predicted, the levels are not considered to be of concern at a population level beyond a local-scale for all species.

Significant operational displacement effects are not predicted for any species.

Cumulative impacts with other nearby wind farm developments were also considered, with a focus on golden eagle, golden plover, dunlin and greenshank. The assessment concluded, on a precautionary basis, that significant cumulative operational effects are possible for breeding golden plover, on the assumption that all of the other proposed wind farms that could affect golden plover population were consented and built. However, it was recognised that there is currently some uncertainty about the long-terms effects of wind farm development on these species, as well as uncertainty about current Central Highlands population sizes, and that a non-significant cumulative effect is also realistically possible in the long-term.

In conclusion, the impact assessment considered the various potential adverse effects arising from the construction, operation and decommissioning of the proposed wind farm and evaluated the significance of these effects on key bird species in the context of the sensitivity of their populations, vulnerability to wind farm development and the scale of the potential effects. Following consideration of a range of best practice and mitigation measures for the construction, operational and decommissioning phases of the Proposed Development (in isolation), and the residual (i.e. mitigated) effects for all receptors would not be significant in terms of the EIA Regulations.

Traffic and Transport

The traffic and transport assessment considers the impacts during the construction phase of the Proposed Development, when volumes of traffic generation are anticipated to be at their greatest due to the delivery of equipment and construction materials. The operational phase of the Proposed Development would not have any significant impacts on the public road network as a result of the low levels of traffic that are forecast.

All turbine blade loads would originate from Kyle of Lochalsh and access the site via the preferred route of the A87 to Invergarry then the A82 to Fort Augustus before following the same route as HGV traffic on the B862 road, entering the site entrance from the west. All other turbine components would be delivered to Corpach and would also access the site via the A82 from the south.

Traffic volumes as a result of construction activities are likely to increase on the public roads approaching the site. The anticipated total traffic volumes are projected to be well within the capacity of the roads in question and the environmental effect would not be significant providing that suitable mitigation measures such as a comprehensive Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) are implemented.

Commenting on the Application

A copy of the EIA Report is available on this website via the links below. Alternatively, the EIA Report is available on the Scottish Government Energy Consents website at www.energyconsents.scot.

Copies of the EIA Report may be obtained from SSE Generation Limited (contact: SSE Generation, FAO Carolyn Wilson, 1 Waterloo Street, Glasgow, G2 6AY or carolyn.wilson@sse.com) at a charge of £350 for a hard copy, or on electronic USB or DVD copies free of charge. Copies of a short Non-Technical Summary are also available free of charge.

Any representations in respect of the application may be submitted via the Energy Consents Unit website at www.energyconsents.scot/Register.aspx; by email to The Scottish Government, Energy Consents Unit mailbox at representations@gov.scotor by post, to The Scottish Government, Energy Consents Unit, 4th Floor, 5 Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, Glasgow, G2 8LU, identifying the proposal and specifying the grounds of representation.

Written or emailed representations should be dated, clearly stating the name of the project (in block capitals), full return email and postal address of those making representations. Only representations sent by email to representations@gov.scot will receive acknowledgement.

All representations should be received not later than the date falling 30 days from the date of the last published notice, although Ministers may consider representations received after this date. Additional information which is submitted by the Applicant will be subject to further public notice in this manner, and representations to such information will be accepted as per this notice.

The EIA Report will be advertised in The Herald, The Inverness Courier and The Edinburgh Gazette upon submission of the application.

About Cloiche wind farm
LocationSouth east of the village of Fort Augustus in the Great Glen, in the Monadhliath mountain range.
OwnershipSSE
Proposed MW capacityover 150MW (36 turbines)
StatusPlanning
ContactChris Bell, chris.h.bell@sse.com

EIA Documents