Associate Feature: Berwick Bank can deliver a clean energy and conservation ‘win-win’ for Scotland
The energy crisis has shown the urgency of rewiring our electricity system. The best way to move as quickly as possible away from volatile fossil fuels and towards clean renewable energy is by delivering projects at speed and scale.
Berwick Bank Wind Farm, which submitted its consent application before Christmas, is just such a project.
Located approximately 30 miles off the coast of East Lothian, Berwick Bank is set to generate up to 4.1GW of offshore wind power. This makes it one of the largest offshore opportunities in the world currently in development and would help establish Scotland as a world leader in offshore wind.
A recent economic impact study carried out by independent renewable energy consultants BVGA showed that at peak construction in 2026 the project could create around 4,650 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in Scotland, and 9,300 in the UK – adding potentially up to £4 billion to the Scottish economy as a whole over the lifetime of the project.
But none of this should come at a cost to Scotland’s precious marine life. Scottish iconic seabirds have been in long-term decline as a result of climate change and a decline in prey availability. We need more clean energy, but we also need to ensure that we address the issue of prey availability. Some of the measures required to tackle this issue must be taken forward at a strategic level. All stakeholders must be pulling in the same direction, and we must work together to deliver strategic compensation measures that support offshore wind delivery and thriving seabird colonies in Scotland.
To achieve this win-win SSE Renewables has been working alongside the UK and Scottish Governments plus key environmental bodies to make Berwick Bank a world-leading green energy scheme that has careful stewardship of nature at the core of its planning application.
Over ten years we have conducted one of the world’s largest aerial bird surveys. We have used this data to refine our plans, carry out detailed analysis and put forward a more environmentally sensitive design.
This extensive research has also allowed us to propose new measures to boost seabird populations in the North Sea as part of the Berwick Bank scheme.
We concluded that a key element of ensuring the sustainability of key seabird species is to halt sandeel fishing off the east coast of Scotland.
The modelling indicates that species, including Guillemot, followed by Kittiwake, Razorbill, Puffin, and Gannet, could benefit by increases of more than 20,000 birds annually if such ecosystem management measures are implemented.
Sandeel closures could provide the strategic solution needed to support the delivery of Berwick Bank Wind Farm as well as future offshore wind projects such as those awarded as part of the ScotWind process.
We believe we have presented a win-win solution. We can deliver large scale offshore renewables projects in Scotland while increasing seabird numbers. We must take these solutions forward urgently to meet the pressing need for the green energy to power change in Scotland and move away from fossil fuels, while taking impactful conservation steps to combat the nature crisis.
Learn more at BerwickBank.com
Alex Meredith is Project Director of Berwick Bank Wind Farm.
This article is sponsored by SSE Renewables.