The project partners behind the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) have submitted an appeal to the Scottish Government Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA). It follows the decision by Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine Area Committee to refuse planning permission for the Onshore Transmission Works at Blackdog.
Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Limited (AOWFL) – the joint venture driving forward the pioneering wind farm – has stated in its appeal that the proposal for the substation is consistent with local planning policy and would prove a strategic asset to the Energetica initiative. AOWFL has also gathered further expert evidence that health risks associated with asbestos found on the site are very low.
Andy Paine, Head of Offshore Wind Development for Vattenfall in the UK, said: “The EOWDC will prove a strategic asset to the North East’s drive to lead the development and deployment of cleaner energy and, in particular, to Energetica - a 30-mile, energy industry-focused development corridor which aims to become a key destination for innovation, knowledge, learning and skills in current and future energy generation.
Mr Paine added: “The project partners have made every effort to engage and work closely with the local community to assure them that finding low level traces of asbestos in the ground is not unusual for a brownfield site such as this. AOWFL is committed to improving this area of ground if consent is granted for the onshore works in order to render it safer and of a higher quality than what currently exists.
“Following a detailed design process and extensive exploratory work, Blackdog is considered the most appropriate site for the onshore works and, as such, we hope that the appeal process concludes positively and as early as possible. There have been no objections from statutory consultees either before or after the EIA was conducted and Aberdeenshire Council’s planning service was supportive and recommended that it be granted approval.”
As part of the appeal, an independent site-specific asbestos risk assessment of the proposed development has been undertaken to provide further reassurance with respect to concerns about asbestos risk and how this would be managed during construction. The report is to be made publically available with all other appeal documentation on the DPEA’s website.
The conclusions of the report by the Director of Analytical Services at the Institute of Occupational Medicine support those of a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out by the project partners. Although not considered necessary by Aberdeenshire Council’s planning officers, the EIA was undertaken at the request of the Formartine Area Committee and an Environmental Statement (ES) submitted to Aberdeenshire Council in August, 2013.
Both the ES and asbestos risk assessment conclude that the risk from asbestos to health in this case is very low and that the proposed development would not compromise health and safety as appropriate construction control measures and planning conditions would be implemented – a prerequisite that the project partners have always been committed to.
The Onshore Transmission Works form a vital component of the EOWDC which has been widely recognised by industry as strategically important to accelerating the development of the offshore wind industry and demonstrating next generation technology.
As a demonstration facility for up to 11 wind turbines and associated technology, the EOWDC would prove to be a major investment in Scotland’s renewables infrastructure and a vital boost to its offshore wind ambitions.
In March, 2013, the Scottish Government consented the EOWDC which has also seen the European Union earmark up to €40 million in grant funding as part of its economic recovery programme.
The EOWDC is a joint venture between Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group and Vattenfall Wind Power Ltd along with consortium partner, Technip Offshore Wind Ltd.
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