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by Staff Reporter
14 February 2024
Associate Feature: Boosting biodiversity while tackling climate change sustainably

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Associate Feature: Boosting biodiversity while tackling climate change sustainably

Scotland is a global player in renewable energy given it’s in a unique position to harness the power of wind to produce world-leading, clean, green energy. 

The proposed Berwick Bank Wind Farm is the perfect example of this. Once complete, which could be by 2030, it has the potential to deliver up to 4.1GW of installed capacity – making it a critical contributor to meeting the Scottish Government’s targets of 11GW of new offshore wind energy supply by the end of this decade. 

Berwick Bank is currently the UK’s largest proposed offshore wind farm in development. If consented, it would be built 30km off Scotland’s East Lothian coast in the North Sea’s outer Firth of Forth. 

The super project, which has the capacity to power up to six million homes with renewable energy and create around 4,500 new Scottish jobs, could generate up to £8.3bn for the UK economy. 

And while it has the potential to provide a major boost for the nation’s net zero ambitions, improving energy security and lowering consumer bills while creating jobs to benefit the wider economy, it will do so with a laser focus on sustainability. 

SSE’s Ecology Manager, Emily Nelson, says: “Important populations of our country’s seabirds breed along the East Lothian coastline and are capable of travelling over large distances offshore to feed, so it is vital we ensure the project has minimal impact on these birds when they are at sea.

“The results of the most recent national census point to a large decline in breeding seabirds in the UK over the last 20 years, with climate change being a potential factor in this,” Emily says.  

“We work with our key stakeholders and establish best practice based on any new emerging evidence and also by monitoring our operational sites such as Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm.  

“In 2021, the Berwick Bank project team took the decision to raise the height of our wind turbine blades from 22 metres to 37 metres, based on research which has shown this can significantly reduce collisions with seabirds. 

“And the following year, the overall area of the project was reduced by around 20%, which is in addition to a reduction of 10% in 2021. This has minimised the footprint of the project on important feeding habitat for seabirds.”

SSE Renewables wants to work alongside the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as other key stakeholders, to help restore the health of the marine ecosystem in the North Sea and deliver measures which are designed to help boost the declining seabird populations. 

Emily says: “We want the public and all of our stakeholders to know that wildlife preservation is one of SSE Renewables’ key commitments for all projects including Berwick Bank.

“Once consent is granted, the Berwick Bank project team is aiming to utilise cutting-edge research and technology which will help monitor how seabirds react to the project and enhancement measures introduced.

“This builds on SSE Renewables’ existing collaborations with other offshore wind developers across the Forth and Tay region. 

“The aim is that Berwick Bank can be established as a model for the development of future offshore wind farms, demonstrating that we can sustainably generate green energy while embedding biodiversity as part of our delivery strategy. And in doing so, this project can play a vital role in ensuring the UK and Scottish Governments reach their net zero targets.” 

This article is sponsored by SSE Renewables

For more see    

Quoted 6,192,414 homes powered per annum based on Typical Domestic Consumption Values, typical 50% projected wind load factor, and projected installed capacity of 4.1GW. Economic contribution and peak construction jobs claims based on socio-economic report by independent renewable energy consultants, BVG Associates. 

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