Press release | 2013-08-28 | 10:37 AM

Low levels of contamination found in ground near Aberdeenshire village

Partners behind economically strategic offshore wind development promise to improve environmentnear Blackdog if substation proposal approved.

Site investigations carried out near Blackdog, Aberdeenshire, as part of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) development have shown, as predicted by the project partners, low level tracesof asbestos in the ground.

The findings of a detailed report have been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council following arequest to bring forward necessary site investigations by the Formartine Area Committee. If the proposal for an electricity substation at Blackdog is given the go ahead by the Committee later this year, the project partners will improve ground conditions in the area by carefully removing the asbestos.

Iain Todd, project spokesman for the EOWDC, said: “It is not unusual to find traces ofasbestos in brownfield sites such as this, where there are areas of former industrial workings including a former landfill, and the site investigation findings are generally as expected. Should the development proceed, we will of course implement all proper control measures in terms of health and safety, environmental protection and waste disposal.

“The partners behind the EOWDC have always informed the local community of their commitment to improving any areas of ground where contaminants are discovered if consentis granted for the onshore works in order to render it safe for development. Indeed, we believe any such remediation work required would greatly improve the condition of the site.

“Before the partners behind the EOWDC submitted the planning application for the onshore works, a detailed environmental appraisal of the proposed development was carried out to professional standards even though the planning service deemed that this was not required. The appraisal was conducted to ensure careful and diligent consideration is given to minimising potential environmental impacts from the proposed development, throughout its lifetime.

“We hope that both the detailed impact assessment and the site investigation findings, will be taken into consideration when Formartine Area Committee meets to make its decision on the development.”

The project partners behind the EOWDC have submitted an Environmental Statement (ES) to Aberdeenshire Council which completes the Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed EOWDC substation and an underground cable route. The ES also confirms earlier predictions of the possibility of minor contamination from preliminary investigative works previously carried out as part of the initial planning application submitted for the onshore works element of the EOWDC. 

The onshore 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. It would also play a significant role in helping Aberdeen City and Shire diversify its energy-based economy by attracting inward investment and creating significant job and business opportunities as well as delivering more than £7billion in added value to the UK economy.

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.

As acutting-edge demonstration facility for up to 11 turbines and associated technology which, with expected capital expenditure of more than £230 million, the EOWDC would prove to be a major investment in Scotland’s renewables infrastructure and a vital boost to its offshore wind ambitions.

Formartine Area Committee requested the site investigation after deferring its decision on whether to grant planning permission for the onshore elements of the EOWDC in April. This request followed a public hearing and calls for further detail on the site’s ground composition.

Fieldwork for the site investigation included geotechnical surveys and a series of boreholes and trial pits on land to the south east of Blackdog over a period of four weeks during June and July. In addition, periodic gas and groundwater monitoring is continuing over a period of at least three months in order to complete the picture of site conditions.

Analysis identified low level traces of asbestos fibre within one of the soil samples tested amongst significant deposits of inert materials such as rubble, bricks and other building materials.

Mr Todd said: “Such deposits are typical of a former brickworks landfill and the identification of traces of asbestos will help to inform construction phase controls. This would be further detailed in the Construction Phase Management Plan to which Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd (AOWFL) – the joint venture behind the EOWDC - would be committed under the terms of the planning permission if it is granted.” 

The ES includes details of the investigative works conducted on site, the results of which correspond with the predictions of an earlier desk study carried out prior to submission of the initial planning application in December 2012. They also correspond with the conclusions of geo-environmental ground investigations carried out on behalf of a land owner at the site on four different occasions between 2002 and 2004.

The desk study report also concluded that, given the site’s industrial history, further investigations were key to ensure that the appropriate control measures could be implemented during construction. The Formatine Area Committee request for more information on ground conditions brought this necessary work forward. 

AOWFL is the joint venture between Vattenfall and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group that is driving forward the EOWDC project along with consortium partner, Technip Offshore Wind Limited.

AOWFL’s planning application for a cable route and substation compound on land to the south-east of Blackdog village would form part of the onshore connection between the proposed EOWDC and the National Electricity Transmission System.

The proposed development would comprise two electricity substation buildings and ancillary works on land south of Hareburn Terrace and an underground cable route between the substation site and landfall. The route between the substation site and grid connection at Dyce would be managed separately by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE).