SCOTTISH Borders Council (SBC) has decided not to oppose plans for one of the biggest offshore wind farms in the world earmarked for its doorstep – despite raising concerns over its visual impact.

Late last year an application was submitted to Scottish Government ministers for the construction and operation of Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm in the outer Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay, off the coast of both East Lothian and the Borders.

The proposed wind farm, which would be located 20 miles east of St Abbs Head, is set to comprise of 307 wind turbine generators and associated support structures, with a maximum rotor blade diameter no greater than 310 metres and a minimum blade tip height of 355m.

Energy company SSE Renewables says it has taken steps during the planning process to reduce the environmental impact of the 4100MW wind farm on seabird populations.

The original plan had been to develop the entire area of Berwick Bank.

However, following feedback from stakeholders the overall size of the site was reduced by 20 per cent to help reduce potential impact on wildlife.

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The company says the project is “essential” if the Scottish Government is to reach its offshore wind targets by 2030.

Scottish Borders Council, alongside East Lothian and Fife local authorities, Berwick-upon-Tweed Town Council and Eyemouth Fishery Office, were among the dozens of organisations consulted over the plans, although the ultimate approval for the project rests with Scottish Government minsters.

Now it has emerged that SBC has decided not to object to the development but has highlighted concerns regarding some of the resultant landscape and visual impacts of the proposal.

It has urged the developer in particular to remove the two rows of turbines nearest to the Borders.

In his report, SBC's Scott Shearer says:  “The Berwick Bank wind farm will be a significant development within the coastal landscape and will alter outward views from the Scottish Borders. The view will change to become a wind farm-influenced coastal seascape and will result in significant impacts for sensitive receptors associated with the coastal landscape, especially from higher elevations such as cliff tops and in areas at 40km distance or less.

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“In particular these views will be experienced along the coastal path and locations identified within the LVIA. That said, the turbines will generally be seen on or beyond the horizon, in the far distance without entering the substantial area of seascape between the viewer and skyline.

“The scale of the proposal will generate big benefits however this scale will also result in large environmental impacts. A careful balancing exercise is required to be undertaken against prevailing development plan policies where the benefits of energy production, and the dis-benefits of environmental impact are weighed carefully against one another as part of the planning


A spokesperson for the Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm development says: “Located in the North Sea, in the outer Firth of Forth, Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm has the potential to drive up to 4.1 GW of installed capacity, making it one of the largest offshore opportunities in the world.

“Berwick Bank is deliverable now and is essential if Scotland is to be successful in meeting the Scottish Government targets of 11GW new offshore wind by 2030.”