The Scottish Government
Energy Consents Unit
5 Atlantic Quay
By email only to: EconsentsAdmin@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
If telephoning ask for:
14 May 2010
Electricity Act 1989
The Electricity Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2000
Section 36 application for Kilgallioch wind farm, South of Barrhill, in the South Ayrshire Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council areas
Thank you for your consultation letter of 11 March 2010. We object to this planning application on the grounds of lack of information, see below.
The Environmental Statement (ES) does not provide sufficient information to assess the potential impact of the proposed installation and site activities on the hydraulic regime.
There is insufficient information to assess the potential impacts of the development on wetland habitats. The presentation of the habitat and peat depth surveys required for this development is poor. Further information and more detailed maps are required to assess any potential impacts of the development on sensitive wetland habitats.
There is insufficient information provided in the ES to determine that there will be no adverse impact on the integrity of the designated features within the Kirkcowan Flow SAC or River Bladnoch SAC.
The information available does not demonstrate the avoidance of deep peat or sensitive habitats.
We will consider removing this objection if the issues detailed below are adequately addressed.
We also object to this planning application unless the planning conditions in section 2.5, 2.13 and 3.1 are attached to any consent granted.
Advice for the planning authority
1.1Parts of the site overlap into the Kirkcowan Flow SAC and SSSI as well as the River Bladnoch SAC. Several of the turbines are located along the site boundary directly adjacent to the Kirkowan SSSI and SAC. The River Bladnoch SAC runs through the site. The groundwater vulnerability of the site and surrounding area is classified as Class 4d and Class 5 (in a scale from 1 to 5 where Class 5 is high vulnerability and Class 1 is low vulnerability). Any wind farm activities that could impact the quantity, quality and flow direction of the groundwater could potentially pose a risk. The following key activities could potentially have a detrimental affect on water quality:
Discharges of sediment; and
Oil/fuel spillages originating from machinery on site mainly during the construction phase.
1.2Insufficient information has been provided to assess the potential impact of the proposed installation and site activities on the hydraulic regime. A site investigation should be carried out and further information submitted on the potential impact to the hydraulic regime in the area allowing a more detailed assessment of risks to the SACs. The hydrogeological setting and risks should be reviewed upon completion of the site investigation. It should be noted that SNH is the lead authority for designated sites however we will offer technical support when required.
1.3The groundwater monitoring determinands and the Private Water Supplies (PWS) determinands are adequate. The applicant states that the frequency of monitoring of the surface water and groundwater will be established in agreement with SEPA and SNH. It is indicated that the proposed purpose built boreholes will be sampled monthly while the PWS will be sampled quarterly, this is sufficient. Levels where applicable in boreholes and wells should also be monitored. The locations of the three boreholes due to be monitored monthly should be agreed with SEPA. In addition to chemical monitoring, levels should also be monitored. The monitoring (both chemical and level) should start prior to works commencing on site.
1.4Mitigation measures should be proposed in the event that an impact occurs on the PWS.
1.5The Water Management Plan (WMP) is considered by the operator to be a live document. Any changes made throughout the development should be made in consultation with SEPA and SNH.
2. Wetland Ecology
2.1 The Water Framework Directive (WFD) and Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (WEWS) are not included in the list of guidance and legislation considered for the Ecology chapter in section 9.22. It should be noted that WEWS applies to wetlands dependent on surface or groundwater.
2.2 A Phase 1 habitat map is provided but the proposed location of wind farm infrastructure is not included on this map. A map showing blanket mire mesotopes is also provided which does include the proposed location of wind farm infrastructure. However, this does not show the location of infrastructure in relation to other habitats on the site. A detailed Phase 1 habitat survey map showing the location of habitats and location of infrastructure should be provided. A detailed NVC map showing the results of the NVC survey is also not included in the ES and should be provided.
2.3 It is also difficult to assess the potential impact of infrastructure on any peatland or wetland habitats due to the scale of the maps provided. Maps at a smaller scale showing the location of all wind farm infrastructure in relation to habitats should be provided. For a large development such as this it would be sensible to split the development into sections (of approximately 20 to 30 turbines each) to allow an accurate assessment of potential impact.
2.4 Wind farm infrastructure should not have a direct or indirect impact on wetland habitats. A planning condition should be attached ensuring that settlement lagoons and silt traps are located away from sensitive wetland areas.
2.5 The blanket mire vegetation includes M17, M15, M18, and M19 NVC communities. The M18 vegetation is described as being on very wet deep peat with good cover of Sphagnum species including Sphagnum magellanicum. This may be considered good quality blanket bog that is likely to be actively sequestering carbon. Wind farm infrastructure should not have direct or indirect impacts on good quality blanket bog.
2.6 Kirkcowan Flow SAC/SSSI (designated for blanket bog) is located within the development site. No wind turbines or associated infrastructure is located within the SAC. Some wind farm infrastructure is located close (within 150m) to the SAC boundary. There is insufficient information provided in the ES to determine that there will be no adverse impact on the integrity of designated wetland features of the EU SAC. The potential for impacts to the Kirkcowan Flow SAC should be assessed.
2.7 Although Wetland Ecology does not usually provide comment on non-wetland features of designated sites it should be noted that the River Bladnoch SAC (designated for Atlantic salmon) is also located within the centre of the development site. Any impact on non-designated wetland features of the SAC could impact the integrity of designated features of the SAC. There is insufficient information provided in the ES to determine that there will be no adverse impact on the integrity of designated features of the EU SAC. The potential for impacts to the River Bladnoch SAC should be assessed. SNH as the lead authority for designated sites should be consulted regards the impact on the Kirkowan Flow and River Bladnoch SACs.
2.8 A peat depth survey was completed as part of the Peatslide Risk Assessment for the site. Peat depth probing was completed for the entire development site (using a 100m grid method and peat probe with a maximum depth of 6m) and has identified peat depth ranging from 0.5m to a maximum recorded depth of approximately 6.5m across the site. Peat sampling was also completed for a limited number of points and to a maximum peat depth of 3m within the development site boundary. Since the peat probe was limited to 3m or 6m for the survey it is possible that depths greater than 6m occur across the site. A complete and accurate peat depth survey recording actual peat depths should be completed for the site. This is required to determine construction method and possible waste issues.
2.9 A map showing contours of peat depth and proposed infrastructure is provided although the colour scheme used for peat depth is not very clear. It is also difficult to assess the location of infrastructure in relation to peat depths due to the scale of the maps provided. As mentioned above for the habitat maps it would be sensible for this large development to split into sections of 20 to 30 turbines each. More detailed peat depth maps showing the location of all wind farm infrastructure in relation to peat depth should be provided.
2.10 In particular we have concerns regards the following turbines and infrastructure;
Turbine 3 – located in deep peat (approximately 3m)
Turbine 8 - located in deep peat (approximately 2m)
Turbine 9 – located in deep peat (approximately 4m)
Turbine 74 – located in deep peat (approximately 2m)
Access track between turbines 24 and 25 – crosses deep peat (up to 5m)
Turbine 28 and access track to turbines 27, 28 and 29 – turbine 28 is located in deep peat (approximately 2m) and the access tracks cross deep peat (3m)
Turbine 32 and access tracks – located in Miltonise mesotope with indicative peat depth of 2 to 3m.
Turbines 52, 56 and access tracks – located in Muirglass mesotope with M18 and M17 vegetation, and indicative peat depth of 6m.
Turbines 64, 65 and access tracks – located in Knowe of the Black Isle mesotope with M17 vegetation and indicative peat depth of 6m.
Turbines 75 and access track – located in Dendownies E mesotope with indicative peat depth of 5m.
Turbines 76, 77, 79 and access tracks – located in Mulniegarroch mesotope with some M17 vegetation on the boundary and indicative peat depth of 6m.
Turbine 81 and access tracks – located in Monandie Moss mesotope with indicative peat depth of 6m. A permanent wind monitoring mast is also located in this area.
Turbines 83 and 84 and access racks – located in Belgaverie B mesotope with indicative peat depth of 5m.
Turbine 85 – located in Belgaverie A mesotope with indicative peat depth of 5m.
Access track between turbines 93 and 92 – crosses deep peat (up to 3.5m)
Turbine 110 and access track – located in Darnarroch mesotope with M18 vegetation and indicative peat depth of 6m.
Turbine 114 and access track – located in White Eldrig mesotope with some M17 vegetation and indicative peat depth of 5m.
Turbines 120, 121 and access tracks – located in Fell of Eldrig of Liberland mesotope with indicative peat depth of 2m.
Turbine 127 and access track – located in Loch Derry Hill mesotope with M17 vegetation and indicative peat depth of 6m.
Turbine 130 and access track – located in Druminnarbel mesotope with indicative peat depth of 2 to 3m.
The comments above are based on the peat depth maps, blanket mire mesotope maps, and information provided in the ES. As noted in points 2.3, 2.4 and 2.9, more detailed maps should be provided so that an accurate assessment of potential impacts can be made.
2.11 It is noted in the ES that surplus peat/soil material will be used to restore road verges/shoulders. It is considered good practice to reinstate peat turfs on track edges but not to spread wet peat from deep excavations on track edges. Excavated peat should not be used to create shoulders on floating roads or cut tracks, or spread on land adjacent to tracks. Peat should only be used in these instances to finish off/reprofile the edges of tracks and where construction has damaged the surface.
2.12 No details of possible restoration of peatland habitats following forestry removal and construction activities are provided, a planning condition should be attached to any planning consent granted detailing restoration of peatland habitats.
3. Waste Management
3.1 A planning condition should be attached ensuring that no development can commence until a full site waste management plan is submitted at least one month prior to commencement of development and approved by the planning authority, in consultation with SEPA and other agencies such as SNH.
3.2 We would strongly recommend that the applicant provides a waste management plan at the planning stage.
3.3 We encourage the recovery and reuse of waste, such as soil provided that it is in accordance with the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (as amended). There are specific criteria which, if met, will constitute an exemption under the above Regulations. These exemptions are required to be registered by SEPA prior to the activity taking place. All wastes removed from the site must be disposed of to a suitably licensed or exempt waste management facility in accordance with the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (as amended).
3.4 If there are forested areas that need to be cleared then SEPA would expect the applicant to detail how the disposal of wood and brash might be achieved on or off site.
3.5 Re-use of peat on site or its removal off site will require adherence to the Waste Management Licensing Regulations and the local SEPA office must be consulted in this respect.
4.1 We would ask that the following additional information is submitted;
Further information on the potential impact of the proposed installation and site activities on the hydraulic regime.
A detailed Phase 1 habitat survey map showing the location of habitats and location of infrastructure and a detailed NVC map showing the results of the NVC survey.
Maps at a smaller scale showing the location of all wind farm infrastructure in relation to habitats.
Further information on the potential impacts to the SACs.
A complete and accurate peat depth survey recording actual peat depths and more detailed peat depth maps showing the location of all wind farm infrastructure in relation to peat depth.
This advice is given without prejudice to any decision made on elements of the proposal regulated by us, which may take into account factors not considered at the planning stage.
Detailed advice for the applicant
5. Pollution Prevention
5.1 Our principle area of concern is centred on construction activities and the creation of access roads. It is noted from the ES that a detailed construction methodology and Pollution Prevention Plan (PPP) which will comply with SEPA’s Pollution Prevention Guidelines will be produced. A meeting with an Environment Protection and Improvement Officer from SEPA’s Newton Stewart’s office should be arranged as soon as possible to discuss and review the PPP.
5.2 Before compilation of a PPP, it is essential that baseline information is available for all environmental receptors on and adjacent to the site considered to be “at risk” from the development. It is important to identify ephemeral ditches and field drains that tend only to flow in wetter conditions and which may easily be overlooked during site survey work.
5.3 The effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures must be assessed through regular environmental monitoring on site and comparison with conditions on site prior to any works commencing. SEPA would expect to see the inclusion of monitoring proposals within the PPP.
5.4 Having a PPP will only be effective if it is fully implemented by all operators on site. When work commences, it is essential that there is a named person responsible for the PPP who has the necessary expertise and authority to control works on site. A named responsible person should always be on site whenever works are in progress.
6. Watercourse Crossings
6.1 It is noted that a number of new watercourse crossings are proposed. Our Position Statement has a presumption against the unjustified culverting of watercourses therefore the preference is the use of bridge crossings instead of culverts and a suitable design should be put forward. The applicant should contact the local SEPA team based at our Newton Stewart office at the earliest opportunity to discuss these matters.
7. Borrow Pits
7.1 It is noted that 8 borrow pits are proposed. The impact of such facilities (including dust, blasting and impact on water) should be appraised as part of the overall impact of the scheme. Information should cover, in relation to water, at least the information set out within Planning Advice Note 50: Controlling the Environmental Effects of Surface Mineral Workings in relation to surface water (pages 24-25) and, where relevant, in relation to groundwater (pages 22 –23).
8. Access Tracks
8.1 It is acknowledged that there will be both floating and cut tracks on site. We have concerns over certain road types such as “floating roads” and their potential impact on hydrology. Experience has shown that in certain circumstances floating roads can sink and the significant make up then required, can interfere with hydrology. While SEPA does not have the “in house” expertise to comment on road construction we consider it essential that our concerns regarding the installation of suitable road types is considered.
8.2 The applicant should demonstrate that the roads proposed will be “fit for purpose” or provide alternative proposals with their associated environmental impacts. This may be an issue which the applicant should seek advice from experts in the field as well as liaising with the local authority roads department.
9. Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (CAR)
9.1 All activities with potential to impact on the water environment require to be authorised under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (CAR) (as amended). The level of authorisation required is dependent on the anticipated environmental risk posed by the activity to be carried out. It should be noted that deviation from proposed sites, due to required micrositing, may have implications in the granting of CAR authorisations, not currently anticipated.
9.2 The lower the risk, the lower level of control required. Authorisation may be as straightforward as compliance with an appropriate General Binding Rule (GBR), moving through to registration with SEPA, up to compliance with site-specific conditions imposed in a licence issued by SEPA.
9.3 Further information on this subject can be found on our website at http://www.sepa.org.uk/water/water_regulation/guidance.aspx. For windfarms there are typically a number of aspects which would fall within the scope of the 2005 Regulations.
These include the construction drainage, disposal of treated foul drainage, the potential provision of river crossings for access, and also for cable crossings for the grid connection. If the wind farm has its own concrete batching plant, authorisation may be required for abstractions and for borrow pits, any discharge may require authorisation after receiving settlement treatment.
9.4 It is likely that the borrow pits will have to be dewatered. Any dewatering during excavations may require authorisation under CAR depending on the scope and duration of the works. Any discharge of water or effluent from site works may require CAR permits depending on the scope and duration of the works. There is a high risk that dewatering may result in a reduction of flow to the groundwater dependant SACs. This risk from potential dewatering should be assessed.
10. Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000
10.1 If the proposals include a concrete batching plant on site for the production of concrete the applicant should be aware that such activities are prescribed processes under the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2000 and would therefore require to be permitted. Any mobile plant used on site would require to be appropriately licensed at its place of origin.
11. The Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006
11.1 The storage of oil is considered a Controlled Activity which will be deemed to be authorised if it complies with the Regulations. If fuel oil or other substances are to be stored on site, it
will be necessary to provide bunding or containment to retain spillage or leakage. The standard requirement is the provision of containment capacity for 110% of the volume stored. We would strongly discourage the storage and use of loose drums of fuel on site.
Details of regulatory requirements and good practice advice for the applicant can be found on our website at www.sepa.org.uk/planning.aspx. If you are unable to find the advice you need for a specific regulatory matter, please contact a member of the Environmental Protection and Improvement Team in your local SEPA office at:
Penkiln Bridge Court
Dumfries & Galloway
If you have any queries relating to this letter, please contact me by telephone on 01355 574 200 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Senior Planning Officer
Copy to: Arcus Renewable Energy Consulting Ltd.
Swinegate Court East