Month: March 2016

Construction update 30th March

With the new access roads to the turbine locations all built, the focus is now on the crane pads at T1 and T2. The soil has been stripped at both locations and currently work is concentrated on getting the hardstanding excavated at T1 to ensure a level base.

T1 crane pad excavation 2T1 crane pad excavation

The T2 crane pad will be mostly built up with a fill to achieve a level surface. All of the turbines are on sloping ground so it has been a challenging design process to achieve the specification which the turbine manufacturer requires.

T2 hardstanding soil stripped
T2 hardstanding with soil stripped, ready for levelling.

To ensure the abnormal loads can negotiate the junction off to T2, we’ve had to fell around 30 trees at the shelter belt here. They were Sitka Spruce with low ecological value, and we’ll be compensating for their loss by the new planting of native species we’re doing on-site and at Wally Cleuch – totalling 5899 new trees! We brought in Pentland Biomass to chip the brash that was left from the Sitka, and we’ll use the wood chip to help landscape the area the trees were felled from. As they mulch down this will also help provide some ecological value.

Brash chipping
Brash being chipped

The substation foundations have now been backfilled and the walls are starting to go up.

Substation walls going up

In the next few weeks, more stone will be brought in to build up the surface of the crane pads at T1 and T2, and work will start on excavating the foundations.

Public access to the site

Berwickshire Community Renewables wishes to encourage visitors to the site, but during the construction phase we need to balance this with our responsibilities to ensure the safety of access takers under the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. We’ve installed signs around the site to ask that all visitors report to the site office, so the contractors know where you’ll be, can take actions to ensure your safety, and can provide advice on where we’re actively working at the moment.

Public access will be maintained throughout most of the farm, but certain areas will be suspended under Section 6 of the Land Reform Act 2003 whilst intensive work is going on, for instance at each of the turbine foundations and crane pads whilst these are being built. Larger exclusion zones will also be in place whilst the turbines are being installed (likely to only be a few days per turbine) to keep people out of the crane radius.

layout plan 280316
Site plan showing turbine locations, site office and entrance from the public road

The plan above shows the site layout. Public access remains prohibited along the quarry haul road shown in pink as this forms part of the quarry workings. The yellow tracks are the internal access roads at Hoprigshiels. Walkers wishing to travel south from the Hoprigshiels farm yard towards Hoprigshiels wood, Paits Hill or Little Dod may face a short diversion around field edges whilst works are occurring at turbine 3. Those heading south-west from the farm towards Wightman Hill or Wester Dod can use a fenced-off corridor adjacent to the existing road in order to stay separated from construction traffic. Please note that this corridor has been built to assist the farmer move livestock between fields, so occasionally there may be cattle being moved up and down the run.

Cattle run
Corridor next to site access road

Anyone taking access through the site should stay well away from construction traffic, and follow the guidance the contractors give at the site office for your safety.

We’re keen to encourage access to the windfarm in the long term and the new and upgraded site tracks will provide good opportunities for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Although modern turbines have sophisticated ice detection systems and will automatically shut down if ice is detected, there is still a small risk of ice falling from turbine blades in certain weather conditions, so walkers should avoid the turbines during these conditions. It is also dangerous to be in an exposed location during an electrical storm.

In the unlikely event that a major component needs replaced, or when the scheme is decommissioned, similar procedures to those outlined for the construction phase will be put in place for access management.

 

 

Construction update 18th March

We’ve seen rapid progress with the civil works in the past few weeks. Since the last update, the main site compound has been established with welfare and office facilities and storage for plant and materials.

Site compound and office
Site compound with canteen, toilets and other facilities

Most of the internal site tracks are now built or upgraded, including the new spur road down to the Turbine 2 location.

T1 and T2 road upgraded
Upgraded farm track
T1 spur road upgrading
New track being built (Ferneylea turbines in the background)

We’re building a new substation near the farm buildings which will house switchgear to isolate the internal site cables from the SP Energy Networks infrastructure. It will also contain the site export meters and the control system (SCADA) for the windfarm. The foundations are in and the walls have started to go up now.

Substation foundation shuttering
Substation shuttering going in, 1st March
Substation foundation blockwork
Lower walls in place, 17th March (foggy day!)

Elsewhere on the site, the soil has been stripped at the hardstandings (crane pads) and foundations for T1 and T2. Further excavation will follow over the next few weeks to get the hardstandings level.

T1 soil stripped
Turbine 1 hardstanding and foundation stripped of soil
T2 turning head
Turning area being formed at the spur road to T2

Wally Cleuch Habitat Enhancement

During the planning process, we made a number of changes to our proposals to help reduce and screen the view of the turbines from the nearby village of Oldhamstocks, which is in a Conservation Area. By changing the layout of the turbines we were able to partly screen them from view from the village behind the landform at Wally Cleuch, a small hill in between the village and the site. We also reduced the tower height of the turbines, taking the upper blade tip height from 125m to 115m. Lastly we undertook to plant some new native species of trees and hedgerow at Wally Cleuch, which once established will screen the blade tips from view entirely. You can see the progressive impact of the changes in the photomontages shown below.

 

original layout
Original layout, 125m tip height

 

 

revised layout
Revised layout and tip height of 115m

 

new layout and planting
Revised layout and tip height, after planting of native species

The tree planting is being carried out for us by Borders Forest Trust and their contractors. The first job was to install deer fences around the 3 compartments to protect the young trees. These are now up and looking very neat.

Wally Cleuch compartments
One of the compartments fenced out at Wally Cleuch

You can already see the fence on the skyline from Oldhamstocks, showing how effective the finished woods will be as a screen.

Oldhamstocks screen

The trees and hedges have now been planted in 2 out of the 3 compartments. Borders Forest Trust worked closely with the ecologists and landscape architects from East Lothian and Scottish Borders Councils to agree a layout and a mix of species which would grow as fast as possible to provide effective screening, and which would also provide an enhanced habitat for local animals and insects.

Wally Cleuch compartment planted 1
One of the Wally Cleuch compartments planted out

The trees planted include a variety of suitable, predominantly native broadleaf, species including Silver Birch, Rowan, Alder, Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Larch (Larix decidua). The planting has been designed with a hedge around the perimeter of each compartment – three sides consist of Hawthorn, (Cretagus monogynya), and the long side of each compartment to the north, facing Oldhamstocks, consists of a variety of species including Holly, (Ilex aquifoluim), Broom, (Cytisus scoparius), Dog Rose, (Rosa canina), Gorse (Whins), (Ulex europaeus), and Blackthorn, (Prunus spinosa) which will assist with the disruptive edge effect enhancing the effectiveness of the shelterbelt.

Wally Cleuch compartment planted 2

We’ll be undertaking regular maintenance on the woods throughout the lifetime of the windfarm to ensure they thrive and remain a great habitat for local wildlife.