Corriegarth Wind Farm

Overview

One of the most northerly projects undertaken by Nevis Environmental was for the international clean-energy specialist Invenergy at Corriegarth in the Monadhliath mountains. 

This is an area of upland moorland, south of the Great Glen and west of Aviemore in the Highlands.

The Monadhliath range has several summits above 3,000 feet (900 metres), the highest being Carn Mairg at 3,087 feet (941 metres), the haunt of eagles and wild cats.

Invenergy is North America's largest independent wind power generation company, and with affiliated companies develops, owns, and operates large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation and storage facilities throughout Europe as well.

The plan at Corriegarth was for a 74MW wind farm. Work began in spring 2014 with the building of a 12km access track and a number of river crossings, followed by construction of the main wind farm area.

Challenges

The most sensitive challenges at Corriegarth concerned bird habitats. The developer had no flexibility in the time allocated for construction of both the access roads and the main site area, but this meant that building work would take place in the main bird breeding season. There are many ground nesting birds across some bottlenecks on the site, among them curlew, grouse and skylarks, and these had to be protected while not delaying the pace of the building programme.

Nevis also had to take over a number of environmental monitoring schemes which had been set in place by the consultants who had previously worked on the planning stage of the project.

Solutions

The immediate priority for Nevis was to set up mitigation measures along the access track to the site to prevent any harm to ground nesting birds. The team installed a number of cameras at proposed water crossings to monitor for otters and wildcats along the length of the site.

Monitoring work during the construction period included surveys of breeding birds, water quality monitoring and regular liaison with the developers to make sure that environmental protection measures were being adhered to.

Invenergy has a track record of developing good and lasting relationships with the communities where their projects are located, and Nevis worked collaboratively with them, agreeing any changes to the reporting and mitigation measures that were believed to be necessary. This included modifications to the habitat management plans, alongside reduced requirements for ecology surveys, both during construction and into the operational period.

Benefits

This was a project with a number of environmental risks and Nevis worked with the project manager, the client and the contractors to ensure that they all understood and appreciated the need for a sensitive approach.

This was a project with a number of environmental risks and Nevis worked with the project manager, the client and the contractors to ensure that they all understood and appreciated the need for a sensitive approach.  This included training those staff who were involved, so they could work together and monitor, on a weekly basis, the location of nesting birds, to put in place appropriate safeguards on the nests and eggs.

Nevis are continuing to work at Corriegarth now that the operational phase of activities is under way. The team are working on restoring areas of bog across the wider estate and monitoring golden eagles. There is also ongoing hydrology monitoring to assess the long term effects of construction on the bog areas.