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    Berwick Bank can deliver a win-win for Scotland

    January 27, 2023 - Drew Allan


      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 power. This makes it one of the largest offshore opportunities in the world currently in development.

      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 an estimated £8.3 billion to the UK 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 in a strategic way. All stakeholders must be pulling in the same direction, and we welcome the RSPB’s recent article acknowledging the need to work together on delivering 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 including Marine Scotland, to make Berwick Bank a world-leading green energy scheme that has careful stewardship of nature at the core of its planning application.

      Over 10 years we have conducted one of the world’s largest aerial bird surveys. We have used this treasure trove of 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 the recent ScotWind.

      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 if we are to meet the pressing need for the green energy to power change in Scotland and the rest of the UK away from fossil fuels.

      Alex Meredith is Berwick Bank Project Director

      CREDIT: Drew Allan


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