1. Introduction

1.1. Introduction

  1. Berwick Bank Wind Farm Limited (BBWFL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of SSE Renewables Limited and will hereafter be referred to as ‘the Applicant’. The Applicant is developing the Berwick Bank Wind Farm (hereafter referred to as ‘the Project’).
  1. The Project is a proposed offshore wind farm located in the outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay, approximately 37.8 km east of the Scottish Borders coastline (St. Abb’s Head) and 47.6 km to the East Lothian coastline (see Figure 1.1   Open ▸ ).The Project is comprised of both the offshore and onshore infrastructure required to generate and transmit electricity from the Proposed Development array area to a Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) 400 kV Grid Substation located at Branxton, south-west of Torness Power station. The offshore export cables will make landfall on the East Lothian coast, specifically at Skateraw.
  2. The offshore components of the Project (hereafter referred to as the ‘Proposed Development’) include the offshore wind farm (the wind turbines, their foundations and associated inter-array cabling), together with associated transmission infrastructure including Offshore Substation Platforms (OSPs)/Offshore convertor station platforms, their foundations and the offshore export cables and cable protection.
  3. The consents, licences and permissions which will be sought by the Applicant for the Project include:
  • a Section 36 consent under the Electricity Act 1989 for an offshore generating station in the Scottish offshore region (12-200 nm) where generating capacity exceeds 50 megawatts (MW);
  • Marine Licences under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (0 to 12 nm) and Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA) (Scottish waters beyond 12 nm) for the following:

           generating station (wind turbines, wind turbine foundations and inter-array cables);

           transmission infrastructure (Offshore substation platforms (OSPs)/Offshore convertor station platforms, interconnector cables, offshore export cables and cable protection); and

Figure 1.1:
Location of the Proposed Development Array Area, within the Former Firth of Forth Zone, and Proposed Development Offshore Export Cable Corridor

Figure 1.1: Location of the Proposed Development Array Area, within the Former Firth of Forth Zone, and Proposed Development Offshore Export Cable Corridor

1.2. Project Overview

1.2.1.    Firth of Forth Zone Round 3 Wind Farms

Firth of Forth Zone

  1. The Round 3 offshore wind development programme was instigated by The Crown Estate (TCE) in 2008. Suitable areas for the development of offshore wind were assessed through a statutory process of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) undertaken by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), now Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
  2. As part of a competitive tender, Seagreen Wind Energy Limited (SWEL) was awarded the exclusive rights to the development of the Firth of Forth Zone by TCE in 2010. The subsequent Zone Development Agreement (ZDA) between SWEL and TCE provides the potential for the development of several offshore wind farms. Subsequently in 2019, the Firth of Forth ZDA was terminated, with the Agreement for Leases (AfLs) now agreed with the Crown Estate Scotland (CES) for Seagreen and the Proposed Development.

Phase 1

  1. In 2011, Phase 1 within the former Firth of Forth Zone included the development of two offshore wind farms known at the time as Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo (or Project Alpha and Project Bravo). Located around 27 km from the Angus coastline ( Figure 1.2   Open ▸ ), each project had a total maximum installed capacity of 525 MW (Seagreen Wind Energy, 2018). Offshore consent for both projects (collectively comprising 150 wind turbines and a cable corridor in to Carnoustie, connecting to a substation at Tealing) was received in October 2014 from Scottish Ministers. Consent was confirmed in November 2017 following a legal challenge by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
  2. In August 2018, SWEL varied the existing section 36 consents for Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo. This variation removed the capacity limits set for each project; the capacities were combined allowing for the development of a single, optimised project within the same sea area. This project (hereafter referred to as ‘Seagreen’) comprises of the two consented sites for Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo. A 15 year Contract for Difference (CfD) was awarded in September 2019 for 42% of the total project capacity (454 MW) and Seagreen reached financial close in June 2020.
  3. Seagreen was consented with permission to install 150 wind turbines. These 150 wind turbines are allocated to two sub projects to facilitate connections to the grid at different locations: ‘Seagreen 1’ refers to the installation of 114 wind turbines that will connect to the grid at Tealing (via the cable route to Carnoustie); ’Seagreen 1A Project” refers to the other 36 wind turbines that will connect to the grid at Cockenzie via a new cable route (the ‘Seagreen 1A Export Cable Corridor’).
  4. Pre-campaign surveys of the Seagreen offshore site took place from March to September 2021 and seabed preparation activities commenced in August 2021. Construction works at the export cable landfall commenced in May 2021 and construction at the offshore wind farm site commenced in September 2021. Construction will occur in two stages. Stage 1 will cover installation of up to 114 wind turbines on suction bucket caisson foundations and installation of the first OSP, and Stage 2 will cover installation of up to 36 wind turbines and installation of the second OSP.

Figure 1.2:
Berwick Bank Project and Seagreen Project Locations

Figure 1.2: Berwick Bank Project and Seagreen Project Locations

Phase 2: Berwick Bank Wind Farm

  1. Phase 2 of the former Firth of Forth Zone includes the development of the Berwick Bank Wind Farm Proposal and the superseded Marr Bank Wind Farm Proposal. The 2020 Berwick Bank proposal was previously named ‘Seagreen 2’ and Marr Bank Wind Farm was previously named ‘Seagreen 3’. Volume 1, chapter 4 provides further detail on this.
  2. The Proposed Development boundary was established through review of both engineering and environmental constraints, including stakeholder feedback following stakeholder engagement throughout the pre-application phase.
  3. Further details on the site selection and consideration of alternatives to the Proposed Development are provided in volume 1, chapter 4.
  4. In May 2022, the Applicant changed the boundary of the Proposed Development. These changes to the Proposed Development boundary are largely focused on the west and northern areas of the Proposed Development array area and equate to a reduction in area of approximately 23% from the boundary presented in the Berwick Bank Wind Farm Offshore Scoping Report (SSER, 2021a). Marine Scotland Licensing and Operations Team (MS-LOT) confirmed at a meeting with the Applicant on 21 March 2022 that the Proposed Development did not need to be rescoped. The Applicant has undertaken a review of all application documents (technical reports and assessment chapters), drafted prior to these changes to ensure these reports continue to be relevant to the current proposal.
  5. A detailed project description for the Proposed Development is presented in volume 1, chapter 3.
  6. Key components of the Proposed Development include:
  • wind turbines, including foundations and support structures;
  • inter-array cables;
  • interconnector cables;
  • OSPs/Offshore convertor station platforms; and
  • offshore export cables.
    1. The Proposed Development’s array area overlaps the large-scale morphological banks ‘Marr Bank’ and ‘Berwick Bank’ ( Figure 1.3   Open ▸ ). A maximum of 307 wind turbines will be installed in the Proposed Development array area, with either suction caisson jacket or piled jacket foundations proposed for the wind turbine foundations. There will also be up to ten OSPs/Offshore convertor station platforms installed with piled jackets or suction caisson jackets for the platform foundations. The wind turbines will connect to each other and to the OSPs/Offshore convertor station platforms via subsea inter-array cables, and the OSPs/Offshore convertor station platforms will be connected to other OSPs/Offshore convertor station platforms via interconnector cables.
    2. Up to eight offshore export cables will connect the OSPs/Offshore convertor station platforms to the landfall on the East Lothian coast, at Skateraw Harbour (hereafter referred to as the ‘Skateraw Landfall’)’. Once the cables make landfall, they will connect to the onshore substation/converter station, and then onto the grid connection point at Branxton, located south-west of Torness Power Station. This grid connection at Branxton will comprise a new 400 kV substation developed by SPEN.
    3. At this stage, the overall capacity for the Proposed Development is not defined as this relies on the number and capacity of the wind turbines installed, within the parameters of the Project design envelope defined for this assessment (however, the Project will have a capacity of more than 50 MW). Likewise, detailed site investigation works will improve understanding of the extent of the area for development and the most suitable locations for wind turbines. This will enable development capacity and site boundaries to be refined and confirmed prior to construction.
    4. In July 2022, National Grid Electricity Systems Operator (NGESO) announced as part of its Holistic Network Review, that the Applicant has signed an agreement for an additional grid connection at Blyth, Northumberland (referred to as the Cambois connection). Necessary consents for the Cambois connection (including marine licences) will be applied for separately once further development work has been undertaken on this export cable corridor route and landfall. These applications will be supported by an EIA and HRA. The Cambois connection has been included as a cumulative project for the purposes of the offshore EIA and assessed based on the information presented in the Cambois connection Scoping Report submitted in October 2022 (SSER, 2022e).
    5. The construction activities associated with the Proposed Development are anticipated to commence in 2025 and will last for up to 96 months. The decommissioning process is likely to follow a similar programme to construction, in a reverse manner. The Applicant has a 50 year AfL with CES and therefore, the Applicant is seeking a 35 year consent period to allow the wind farm to continue operating should the lifespan of the wind turbines allow.

1.4. References

Marine Scotland Licensing Operations Team (2022). Scoping Opinion for Berwick Bank Wind Farm. Available at: Scoping Opinion – Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm | Marine Scotland Information. Accessed: 24 February 2022.

SSE Renewables (2020). Berwick Bank Wind Farm: Offshore Scoping Report. Available at: https://www.sserenewables.com/media/0t5n05b4/berwick-bank-wind-farm-offshore-scoping-report.pdf

SSE Renewables (2021a). Berwick Bank Wind Farm Offshore Scoping Report. Available at: https://berwickbank-eia.com/offshore-scoping/

SSE Renewables (2022a). Berwick Bank Wind Farm Onshore EIA Report.

SSE Renewables (2022e). Cambois Connection Scoping Report.