The need for onshore wind
We are in a climate emergency, cost of living crisis, and also seeking to enhance the security of our energy supply. Onshore wind can address all of these.
This is recognised by the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), Scotland’s long term spatial planning strategy, which was published in February 2023. Scotland currently has almost 9GW of operational onshore wind capacity. The Scottish Government has a target of achieving 20GW of installed wind capacity across Scotland by 2030 in order to help meet Scotland’s legally-binding 2045 net zero carbon emissions target. This is a substantial increase in capacity and will require a significant deployment of new onshore wind projects in order to meet this demand for green, low carbon electricity - which is not only essential for tackling climate change but also for supporting a globally competitive economy and creating jobs.
Onshore wind alongside other renewable technologies can generate the cheapest form of new electricity generation and isn’t subject to sudden fossil fuel price fluctuations or the uncertainties of global markets. It is quick to build (12-24 months) and the forecast end-to-end carbon payback time for the Torfichen Wind Farm proposal is 2.5 years.
Turbine technology has advanced considerably in recent years, meaning that turbines are now taller and more efficient which enables them to generate a significantly greater amount of renewable electricity per turbine.
Torfichen Wind Farm would be capable of generating enough clean, low-cost electricity for around 117,000 homes and reducing carbon emissions by approximately 110,136 tonnes each year.
Protecting the environment
In January 2023, following initial feasibility work on site we submitted a Scoping Report to the Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit (ECU), seeking feedback from the Scottish Government and other key consultees (including local Community Councils), on the scope of the proposed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) survey work.
The report included an early design layout for the proposed scheme comprising 19 turbines at a tip height of up to 180m and a proposed energy storage facility which will help maximise generation capability and efficiency of the site.
The EIA is an extensive piece of work which investigates and mitigates any potential effects of a development on the natural, physical and human environment. Over the last couple of years, RES had undertaken a wide range of technical and environmental surveys on the site covering a wide variety of considerations, including:
- Landscape & visual
- Archaeology & Cultural Heritage
- Geology, Hydrology & Hydrogeology
- Traffic & Transport
- Socio-economics, Recreation & Tourism
- Aviation, Radar & Other issues
The findings from the site studies are written up in a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) which the Scottish Ministers will take into account when deciding whether or not to grant consent for the wind farm. A copy of the EIAR can be found here.
Design development and consultation
In March 2023, we held public consultation events to engage with the local community on the early scoping design layout. In the months that followed the project team reviewed the consultee feedback to the Scoping Report, undertaking further environmental and technical survey work, and considering the community feedback received from the public consultation.
The comments received from the local community, together with findings from the site survey work and key consultee feedback, have helped to shape the design.
Key design changes include a reduction in turbine numbers from 19 to 18, and the movement of each wind turbine location to varying degrees to refine the design and minimise impacts wherever possible.
In September 2023 we held a final suite of public consultation events to present the final design and gather feedback.
We are very grateful to everyone who provided feedback to RES on the proposal. For more information on the consultations please click here.
In early November 2023 RES submitted a Section 36 application for consent to Scottish Ministers for Torfichen Wind Farm. The application was accompanied by other key documentation, including the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). Once validated, the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit (ECU) began its statutory consultation to enable the public, as well as key consultees, to submit formal representations on the proposal. To view the planning application and associated documentation please click here.