The wet weather last week meant slow progress, but the fine weather in the past few days has helped the site dry up and we’re back on track. At T1, most of the hardstanding is complete – the final section will be built up over part of the foundation once this has been poured and backfilled.
The T1 foundation has also been excavated, and a layer of hardcore rolled to form the initial base. A thin skim of concrete will be laid onto this before the steel reinforcement cage is assembled. After that the edges will be shuttered prior to pouring the concrete, which should happen in mid-May.
At T2 most of the cut and fill for the crane pad has been completed, ready for a layer of stone to be laid down and compacted.
The substation walls are also up, along with the concrete roof. A timber pitched roof will be built atop this, with a slate covering.
Berwickshire Community Renewables has commissioned Land Use Consulting (LUC) to provide ecological support for the Hoprigshiels project, including Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) services and monitoring work. They carried out pre-construction surveys to check for the presence of any protected species such as otters and bats that might have been present in or around the site. An ECoW is on site regularly during construction and during any key work stages. They report back to the council on a monthly basis with their findings, and have the authority to immediately stop works on site if there is an incident which could lead to significant effects on the environment.
The ECoW also undertakes regular toolbox talks with the contractors on site, to make them aware of any particular risks or sensitivities on the site, and to teach them how to recognise signs of wildlife activity, such as footprints or dung. We’ve also agreed with the council that we’ll carry out post-construction monitoring during the next 15 years, including surveys for bats and pink-footed geese. The pre-planning and pre-construction surveys indicated it was very unlikely there would be impacts as the site has a relatively low ecological value, but these surveys will help us find out if the windfarm changes any wildlife activity. We are hopeful that any changes will be beneficial with the significant new planting of native tree species which we’re doing in and around Hoprigshiels.
We’ve also employed an archaeologist from AOC Archaeology to oversee all soil-stripping works on the site in case any remains are uncovered. No archaeological investigations or sites of archaeological significance are known within the construction area, however there remains the possibility of finding unknown features. There are several sites relating to prehistoric and post-medieval activity within the surrounding area so we’re taking a precautionary approach, agreed with the council archaeologist. Again, the AOC archaeologist conducted a pre-works walkover survey, and by monitoring the removal of topsoil where the turbines and access roads are being built, they can record and prevent any damage to any features that may be unearthed. Flat-bladed rather than toothed buckets are used on the excavators for this purpose, to reduce the chance of any damage.