A giant wind farm that was originally to be the same size as Fife is being scaled back in size for a second time.
SSE Renewables is planning Berwick Bank wind farm off the Fife coast.
Originally it was due to be built in a vast area measuring 1,314 square kilometres.
But earlier this year, that area was cut by 10% due to concerns over seabirds.
Now it will be reduced by a further 20%, taking the total size of the land to 945 sq km.
The capacity of green electricity that will be generated by Berwick Bank will remain unchanged, at 4.1GW.
Reasons for cutting back at Berwick Bank
The decision was made as part of the project’s design process following extensive stakeholder consultation, detailed ornithological studies and full environmental assessment.
Berwick Bank will be one of the largest offshore renewable energy developments in the world.
It will be a major contributor towards clean energy production in the UK.
The change to the boundary is one measure being taken to reduce potential effects on ornithology as well as benthic and shellfish ecology.
It has also been made to protect fishing, shipping and navigation. The alteration is the final step in the pre-consent design process.
Proposals for the site will be sent to Scottish minister for planning approval later this year.
A ‘trailblazing’ project off Fife coast
Project director Alex Meredith said: “Advancing Berwick Bank at its full potential capacity is essential to delivering on Scottish and UK Government offshore wind and net zero targets.
“Since the last design review in 2021 global events have only increased the need to deliver the project at maximum speed and scale.
“We are committed that this trailblazing project will play a part in addressing the nature emergency as well as the climate emergency.
“That is why we have been determined to propose as environmentally sensitive a design as possible.”
Mr Meredith said there had been a “detailed process of refinement” to get to this stage and reduce potential environmental impacts.
Berwick Bank plans to be later this year
The changes mean a planning application will not be submitted until the final quarter of this year.
It had previously been expected that plans would be submitted in Q2 this year.
Consent team manager Sarah Edwards added: “We have listened to feedback and consultation responses in the local community.
“The boundary reduction will reduce potential effects on seabirds by reducing the footprint of the project on important foraging habitat.
“It also reduces the potential for barriers effects on seabirds that may access the site particularly during the breeding season.
“Ongoing analysis and emerging evidence from our existing operational offshore projects are improving our understanding of the potential effects on seabirds.
“We will include the most comprehensive and up-to-date data in our submission.”
Other SSE Renewables projects
SSE Renewables is a developer, owner and operator of renewable energy across the UK and Ireland.
It has a portfolio of around 4GW of onshore wind, offshore wind and hydro.
It is currently constructing the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the 3.6GW Dogger Bank wind farm in the North Sea.
SSE Renewables is currently working on the Seagreen wind farm, due to be complete in 2023.