Author: hoprigshielswindfarm

Construction update 5th October

The first tower sections arrived on site yesterday, a convoy of three parts for T1. They were all on different types of trailer to account for the varying lengths, diameters and weights of each section, ensuring they would fit below bridges and other obstacles on the route from Blyth.

Tower convoy on Ecclaw Road
The vessel bridge trailer carrying the base section

The longest trailer is known as a ‘vessel bridge’ or ‘clamp’ trailer; it has a front and rear unit with no mechanical connection, both parts are clamped to the tower which helps it stay close to ground level, reducing the overall height. The multiple wheels help limit the individual axle weight. Both the front and rear units of the trailer have independent steering to negotiate tight bends, the rear unit can be controlled by an operator standing on the back of the unit to give him better visibility.

The sections of the clamp trailer are joined after unloading

Once at T1 the hydraulics on the trailer lowered the base section onto the ground, and the front and rear sections of the trailer were clamped together for the drive back to Blyth.

Main crane at T1

The main 500 tonne capacity crane is now set-up at T1, but unfortunately the winds were too high to install any of the tower sections yesterday afternoon.

Blades, hub, nacelle and drive-train unloaded and ready at T2

The components are all ready for installation at T2, with the tower sections due here on Friday, weather permitting.

Inside one of the nacelles, with the generator visible (centre)

Some work has already started on fitting smaller components into and onto the nacelles on the ground to prepare them for installation. Looking inside you can see the main 2.5MW generator, ready to receive the gearbox.

T3 hardstanding and components

The bulk of the landscaping has been completed at T3, with the nacelle, hub and drive-train delivered here too now. The final cable trenching is underway here at the moment and should be completed by the end of the week.

Excalon backfilling one of the SPEN cable trenches

Off-site, Excalon are making progress with the cable trenching for the network operator, SP Energy Networks. After the cable ducts are put in position, they cover them with sand and then lay down marker tape for the power and fibre-optic communication cables.

An end-section of the ducting

There are multiple ducts being installed at once; one for each of the 3 phases of the 33,000-volt cable being used to connect Hoprigshiels, and two larger ducts on top for the two 3-core 11,000-volt cables being laid to connect the Kinegar/Neuk turbines. The final green duct is for the comms fibre. Ropes will be used to pull all the cables through at a later stage; this is more efficient than laying the cable directly in the trench, resulting in the work being completed more quickly. It also means the road won’t have to be dug up again over long stretches if the one of the cables develops a fault in the future.

Innerwick substation

There is also good progress being made on the substation at Innerwick, which will contain the switchgear used to isolate the new cable from the existing 33kV network which it will tap into at this point. The walls are going up fast and the interior roof slab has been poured as well.


Turbine delivery update

We’ve had a few delays due to the weather and paperwork issues at port; revised delivery dates are as follows;

  • Nacelle, Hub and DT (final set) to T3 today (October 3rd)
  • Towers set to T1 on Tuesday October 4th
  • Blades for T1 (final set)  Thursday 6th October
  • T2 towers Friday 7th October
  • T3 towers Monday 10th October

Most of the components are arriving from around 1230-1400. Dates for the T2/T3 towers in particular may change if there are weather delays in installation.

Construction update 28th September

This week saw another major milestone with the delivery of the first main turbine components to site. The first few deliveries were delayed by a few issues with paperwork when leaving the Port of Blyth, but otherwise had uneventful journeys up the A1 to site, escorted by Northumbria Police.

The first of the T3 blades turning onto Ecclaw Road
The first set of blades leaving the quarry haul road onto the site

The weather was good on Monday meaning the blades were all offloaded quickly so the lorries could head back to Blyth, after contracting the trailers back to standard length.

The two auxiliary cranes unload one of the T3 blades

On Tuesday we had another delivery of blades, along with the first nacelle (the that sits at the top of the tower to house the generator and gearbox), hub (the component holding the three blades once erected) and drivetrain (the assembly which is linked to the hub, comprising the gearbox and generator). These components are separated to split the weight for ease of transport and lifting.

The convoy of blades progresses up the haul road, with the nacelle at the rear
Three blades lined up at the site compound before heading up to T2
One of the nacelles, with protective shrink-wrap in place for shipping

Unfortunately the high winds yesterday delayed the second set of blades being offloaded until this morning, meaning the lorries couldn’t get back to Blyth to collect and deliver the final set of blades today – they will come later in the week. We’re hoping to get three tower sections delivered and offloaded tomorrow, ready to start installation on Friday when the wind is expected to drop. These are the only 3 weeks we don’t want wind!

Excalon have reported that their cabling works for SP Energy Networks are on-track, with no changes expected to the planned road closure dates at present.

Turbine delivery update

Just a brief update, the dates and times for the blades next week remain the same (Mon-Wed, around 1130-1230), but the hub, nacelle and drive-train convoys will arrive a little later on the Tuesday and Wednesday, around 1330-1400 we anticipate. The two small auxiliary cranes will also arrive on Monday morning.

Turbine deliveries

Turbine deliveries have been pushed back slightly by the manufacturer and are now due to commence next Monday the 26th. The provisional delivery dates are below;

  1. Pre-deliveries (nacelle, hub, drive-train, blades)

– Monday September 26th 2016 = Blades for T3, two auxiliary cranes

– Tuesday September 27th 2016 = Nacelle, Hub, Drive-train and Blades for T1,

– Wednesday September 28st 2016 = Nacelle, Hub, Drive-train and Blades for T2.

(main crane arrival TBC, likely Tues 27th, Wed 28th or Thurs 29th)

  1. Main build (towers just-in-time, so subject to change if installation is delayed by weather)

– Thursday September 29th 2016 = Tower deliveries T1

– Friday September 30th 2016 = Tower deliveries T1 and start of erection at T1,

– Tuesday 4th October 2016 = Tower deliveries T2,

– Wednesday 5th October 2016 = Tower deliveries and start of erection at T2,

(T3 Nacelle, Hub, Drive-train delivery TBC)

– Monday 10th October 2016 = Tower deliveries T3,

– Tuesday 11th October 2016 = Tower deliveries and start of erection T3

We’ve been told to expect the deliveries between around 11.30-12.30 on these dates, although the cranes may arrive at slightly different times. We’re fairly certain of the delivery dates for next week, but after that there is the potential for change if there are delays in installation due to weather or issues with police escort availability – we’ll get updates from Nordex on a weekly basis to confirm if there are any changes. The blades and tower sections are the longest loads which will have police escorts as well as escort vans from the transport provider, Mar-Train. The nacelle, hub and drivetrain are all shorter (but wide) loads, so will only require escort vehicles from Mar-Train. Likewise the main crane will have an escort vehicle from the provider, Ainscough.

We will shortly put up some signs along the route to warn road users of the abnormal load delivery times and dates – these will only display the dates for next week at the moment until the other dates are confirmed. All the public roads along the route will remain open, so the only disruption is likely to be people being held in lay-bys for a few minutes until the loads pass by. Each individual convoy is likely to comprise three lorries (3x blades, 3 tower sections or nacelle, hub and drive-train) plus the escort vehicles, and after leaving the A1 they will all travel at a maximum of 20mph up to the site entrance. All being well, the turbines should be installed by mid-October. Apologies in advance for any delays.

Grid connection – road closure update

We’ve now been passed details of the forthcoming road closures from Excalon, the SP Energy Networks contractor. Apologies for the late notice, it seems to have taken a while to get final approval from East Lothian Council, which was only received yesterday. Excalon took on board comments and suggestions from the two community council meetings, but ultimately it was up to the councils who had the final decision on the dates and sections to be closed. The community councils should hear separately from East Lothian roads department, whom I’m told are arranging for any school bus diversions required.


Road closure overview


The coloured plan above shows the different sections which will be subject to road closures and temporary traffic lights. The grey, white, lilac and dark green sections are for the Kinegar connection rather than Hoprigshiels, but I’ve included them on here for clarity. The closure dates are as follows;

Closure A, 19/9-7/10 (blue) – the junction near the A1 north of Innerwick to the junction of this minor road with the road to Crowhill

Closure B, 31/10-4/11 (pink) – the short section in between the Crowhill junction, and the junction of the road to Innerwick

Closure C, 10/10-28/10 (orange) – the Innerwick junction to Thornton Bridge

Closure D, 31/10-25/11 (dark green) – Thornton Bridge to Thorntonloch Bridge junction

Closure E, 14/11-18/11 (lilac) – Thorntonloch Bridge junction to A1

Closure F, 12/9-23/9 (red) – Thornton Bridge to junction with road to Branxton

Closure G, 26/9-21/10 (purple) – junction with road to Branxton to junction with road to Oldhamstocks Mains

Closure H, 24/10-4/11 (yellow) – junction with road to Oldhamstocks Mains to junction at the Cockit Hat Strip

Closure I, 12/9-23/9 (light green) – Cockit Hat Strip to Oldhamstocks

Closure J, 26/9-21/10 (brown) – Oldhamstocks to Hoprig

Closure K, 5/9-18/9 (grey) – Hoprig Road

Temporary traffic lights 1, 12/9-16/9 (black) – from the substation being built north of Innerwick, to the junction near the A1

Temporary traffic lights 2, 24/10-28/10 (white) – on the A1 outside Torness


In roughly chronological order this means the closures will be as follows;

Closure K, 5/9-18/9 (grey)

Closure F, 12/9-23/9 (red)

Closure I, 12/9-23/9 (light green)

Closure A, 19/9-7/10 (blue)

Closure G, 26/9-21/10 (purple)

Closure J, 26/9-21/10 (brown)

Closure C, 10/10-28/10 (orange)

Closure H, 24/10-4/11 (yellow)

Closure B, 31/10-4/11 (pink)

Closure D, 31/10-25/11 (dark green)

Closure E, 14/11-18/11 (lilac)

The dates above are for the installation of the ducting which forms the major works; Excalon will then go back along the cable routes and open up joint bays to pull the cable through, between the 31st of October and 30th of November, but it is normally possible to do this with traffic management rather than full road closures.

Excalon have sent out letters to everyone in the Oldhamstocks and Innerwick area who may be affected, with details of the closures and a number to call if there are any queries. For those living directly within one of the road closures, access will be maintained for them, albeit they may need to follow a diversion to avoid areas being immediately worked on. Excalon will work most weekends in order to minimise the duration of the closures, and when they are not working they will endeavour to open the road. Please note that although they will work hard to keep to the dates shown (and to complete works earlier when possible), ground conditions are still unknown so changes can’t be ruled out. We will try to keep you all up to date with any changes as regularly as possible.

Below are three maps showing the different areas with the closure dates shown on each:

Innerwick, Crowhill, Thornton Bridge and Torness area
Oldhamstocks, Branxton and Thornton Bridge area
Oldhamstocks, Hoprig and Cockburnspath area.

Apologies in advance for any inconvenience caused by the connection works, and thanks again for your patience.

Construction update 9th September

We’re into the final rush now to complete the civil and electrical works before the arrival of the turbines at the end of the month. Most of the on-site cabling is completed apart from the final section down to T3, where we’re waiting for the crops to be harvested. The grass is starting to grow where it was reseeded after landscaping, which is helping make the disturbed ground look very neat and tidy again.

Livestock will be able to graze right up to the turbine towers


At T2 you can see the cable where it has been pulled through the foundation ducts and coiled up ready for connection to the turbine transformer and switchgear.

Power and communication cables pulled and ready for connection

At T3, the contractors have finished a turning head below the turbine, which will allow the crane and empty lorries to turn around after unloading. This also serves as a link road into the existing farm track to enable the farmer to access the rest of his fields from the hardstanding.

View over the T3 hardstanding (L), foundation and turning head (R)

Once the final cabling is done, the final bits of work will be some landscaping around T3, and a few minor bits of road widening on the haul road to allow the turbine components past.

Long load trial run

Exciting news for us last week, with the arrival at the Port of Blyth of all of our turbine components. We’re expecting deliveries to site to start on around the 26th of September, but we’re waiting for confirmation from the police who will escort the blades and tower sections.

Our turbine manufacturer Nordex asked their transport firm Mar-Train to conduct a trial run with an empty lorry, with a trailer extended out to the full length it would be for these deliveries, to ensure there were no problems on the route. This trial run happened on Monday.

Turning into the site entrance


There were no issues getting out of the Port of Blyth, which is used regularly for turbine deliveries, and no problems up the A1 either. The convoy turned off the A1 just south of Cockburnspath, following our usual approved route, and then up the road towards Ecclaw to our site entrance. We’ll do a bit of trimming here so the blade tip can oversail the hedge – the ladder on the back of the lorry was used to simulate the blade overhang!

Checking one of the corners on the haul road – a tight fit!


The convoy then progressed through the Kinegar site, and up the quarry haul road. There are a few minor bits of work the trial run highlighted which we’ll need to carry out to widen a few corners here, which won’t be an issue.

Approaching the site on the haul road

Once on the site, the lorry drove down each of the three turbine spur roads to check all the corners and gradients were suitable. You can get a sense of the scale of the components from the side-on shot of the lorry below as it turns around at T1, ready to head down to T2.

The lorry with trailer (and ladder!) extended

We’ll keep you posted about the final delivery dates and times once these have been confirmed.

Construction update 19th August

Sorry it’s been a while since the last construction update, holidays and a relatively quiet period for the civil works has meant it’s a while since I’ve been to site.

The big change is that the electrical works are now fully underway, with our on-site cable network being installed between the turbines and the substation. The first section has been excavated to well below ploughing depth; lined with sand to protect the cable; cable laid and covered over with more sand and warning tape; then backfilled, and the disturbed area re-covered with topsoil.

Cable trench backfilled
Cable laid and trench backfilled, topsoil awaiting spreading

The T3 foundation pour went well, and this has now been backfilled. The contractors are now working on the final turning head here, along with the last bit of crane pad that extends out over the foundation.

T3 foundation 190816
T3 foundation poured and backfilled

The final touches to all the foundations is the grouting, between the metal ring which the tower will be bolted onto, and the concrete turret which is left protruding from the ground. This grout is designed to be extremely strong as it will support the full weight of the turbine over a relatively small surface area.

T3 grouting formwork
Shuttering in place for the grouting at T3
T2 grouting completed
Finished grouting in place at T2

Over the next few weeks, the cabling work will continue, along with the final civil works, including landscaping around T3.

The trial run planned for the 16th of August has now been rescheduled for the 30th, to allow Nordex to try an empty lorry on the T3 turning head once this has been completed. Turbine deliveries are now scheduled to commence on the 19th of September – we’ll provide more details nearer the time.

Grid connection route

We have now finalised our grid connection route with the network operator, SP Energy Networks (who will build, own and operate the cable), after detailed consultation with Scottish Borders Council and East Lothian Council.

The turbines have to be connected into the nearest section of existing 33,000 volt network in the area with sufficient capacity; this point of connection is located in between Innerwick and the A1. The  underground cable route is shown in green on the plan below. The cable will firstly run from our on-site substation at Hoprigshiels, through the farm steading and down the farm access road to the crossroads at Hoprig. From this point onwards it will follow the public road and verge. It will head down to Oldhamstocks firstly, then up the hill, over to Thornton Bridge, then around the minor road north of Innerwick before reaching the point of connection, where a new substation is being built.

Grid route
Plan showing the grid connection route in green

There are a number of advantages to this route. In between Hoprig and Thornton Bridge, the cable route is the same as for the cable for the two Kinegar (Neuk) turbines also under construction at present. The two developments are connecting at different voltages so can’t share a cable, but by sharing a trench the civil works can be carried out at the same time, reducing disruption on the local road network. Most of the route was used for the cable laid to connect in the two Ferneylea turbines back in 2014, so SP Energy Networks are confident they can avoid any major problems. No overhead line will be used, so there will be no visual impact. We considered numerous routes over the past few years, some of which would have been cheaper and more direct, but which would have required overhead line and/or some tree felling. Ultimately we and SP Energy Networks felt, and the councils agreed, that this was the most optimal route to use.

Unfortunately there will be some temporary road closures in place whilst the work is carried out, so there may be some disruption for local residents. As was the case during the Ferneylea cable installation, the SP Energy Networks contractor (Excalon) will ensure that access is maintained for people who live in the area, and will be leafleting those who live along the route with further details. Excalon has obtained the required road closure licences from the two local authorities and will be attending the next East Lammermuir and Cockburnspath and Cove Community Council meetings to explain more about their work, and to answer any questions residents may have. The work is likely to start on the 5th of September; the duration is still to be confirmed, but it is likely the cabling will be completed by around the end of November this year. As well as the local leafleting, we will post further information here and via the local community councils once the dates and diversions for individual sections of  road closure are known. We would like to apologise in advance for any disruption the work may cause, and thank you for your patience and understanding.