The Fallago Rig wind farm was developed in the Lammermuir Hills which form a natural boundary between East Lothian and the Scottish Borders, extending from Gala Water to St. Abb’s Head.
The hills – not particularly high, but often steep - have traditionally been used for sheep grazing; the name Lammermuir means ‘moorland of the lambs’. Like most wind farm sites, this one is bleak and remote exposure to the elements and a lack of natural passes combine to form a formidable barrier to communications between Edinburgh and the Borders. The hills are crossed by only one major road (A68), which is frequently closed by snow in winter.
EDF Energy Renewables had plans for a windfarm of 49 turbines spread across a large area, needing a 16km access road and an overhead pylon line. They also had to build an onsite electrical sub-station and 400kV switching yard. And the landscape where they were to build all this covered three sites of special scientific interest (SSSI).
In a situation such as this, success depends on clear communication and excellent working relationships between the contractors and the environmental management team – which had not been achieved by the original consultants. Nevis stepped in, and as a result the Fallago Rig project is now used as a best case example by Scottish Borders Council Planning Department associated with communications, stakeholder engagement and environmental monitoring.
Nevis also stepped into a project where time was precious, and so was the landscape. The site is home to a number of species of breeding birds, and in particular, the ‘lekking’ of the black grouse. This mating ritual takes place when male black grouse gather at dawn on the edges of a forest to perform an elaborate dance routine, flash their white tail feathers and impress the watching females, hiding nearby. There were some specific restrictions on construction activity around these sites which Nevis managed to the satisfaction of all involved.
One further challenge was to take into account the requirements of the landowner, the Duke of Roxburgh, who has considerable income from shooting on the site. Again, negotiations resulted in a Habitat Management Plan which satisfied all parties involved.
Communication was the key to successful operation and completion of this project. Rebuilding of relationships between the various stakeholders was critical. There followed nine months of planning, including detailed water monitoring and reporting in the more sensitive areas on the access road, and a two-year building programme.
Nevis Environmental staff were able to help the contractors meet planning conditions, to access the site without damaging the area, and then monitor ecology, habitats and water courses.
Detailed water monitoring and reporting was undertaken in the more sensitive areas on the access track.
Nevis Environmental helped throughout the planning stage; supported the construction of the main site and access to it; designed environmental monitoring schemes; supported the creation and enhancement of habitat management areas on site; and maintained excellent communication and stakeholder relationships throughout.
The key benefit was the excellent communication and relationship between Nevis Environmental and all the stakeholders involved over almost three years of this project, which meant that issues which arose during construction were resolved easily and quickly with all partners.
It meant that compliance was met, and enabled the construction project to proceed with the least risk to the environment.
The Fallago Rig project is used as a best case example by Scottish Borders Council Planning Department associated with communications, stakeholder engagement and environmental monitoring.
The emphasis throughout was on ‘support’, with the Nevis Environmental expertise in wind farm development alongside ecological assistance and guidance, proving to be the key to success.