At full operational capacity, a 24 MW windfarm near Greenock and Port Glasgow will provide enough renewable energy to power approximately 14,800 homes and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 30,000 tonnes each year, when compared to the grid-mix carbon emissions factor.
The site lies in the northern extent of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in an area characterised by unimproved upland moorland and semi-improved and improved pasture.
The application for planning permission was initially refused by Inverclyde Council, citing potentially adverse effects on cultural heritage, visual impacts within the neighbouring settlements to the north and south, and conflicts with aviation radar.
The developer – Greenock-based 2020 Renewables (now Forsa Energy) – gained planning permission in 2016 following an appeal and a Public Local Inquiry (PLI).
Realising a robust EIA
A Ramboll team was responsible for coordinating the conceptual design of the wind farm and preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Our role involved identifying potential environmental impacts and proposing mitigation to avoid, reduce and offset any potentially negative effects. We also coordinated a team of external subject-matter experts to help shape the EIA.
From landscape and visual assessment to traffic and transport; hydrology, geology and hydrogeology; ecology and ornithology; archaeology and cultural heritage; and noise, aviation and socio-economics, the multidisciplinary team offered expertise across a range of environmental specialisms.
Ramboll supported the developer in consulting with key stakeholders – Inverclyde Council, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage – and gathering information on the nature and sensitivity of the environment. The information gathered was then used to inform the design of the turbines and infrastructure.
We also led a design workshop with specialists and helped the client to engage with local communities through a programme of public exhibitions and meetings.
Early engagement with officials, residents and political representatives enabled the team to demonstrate how the design responded to concerns raised by local stakeholders, taking account of the environmental constraints and economic viability of the project.
The design successfully responded to local environmental constraints –avoiding significant noise levels, disturbance of cultural heritage assets and private water supplies, and minimising visual effects on Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and a local Roman Fortlet.
The EIA documents prepared by Ramboll were subject to scrutiny through the PLI process. Subsequently, the reporter selected by Scottish Ministers made the recommendation to grant planning consent.
Benefiting the community
The project will make a significant contribution to Scottish and UK renewable energy targets, generate new high-skilled jobs in the area and make a positive contribution to the local and regional economy. As well as providing a community benefit fund, the project will improve access into Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and create new recreational opportunities.