Planning and Design

Why do we need to go so high in terms of tips of the turbines?

The higher efficiency the turbine the more energy is generated delivering lower household bills and benefits to the local community.

Tall turbines are able to capture less inhibited wind flows and higher wind speeds meaning the turbines can reach maximum output more often.  It also allows for a larger rotor diameter giving a larger power capture area again increasing the energy production.

With both of these combined it enables us to construct larger more powerful machines – which, on this site, could lead us to reduce the number of turbines. This leads to a lower cost of energy to build and greater impact to the local economy.

Is 250m tall turbines the tallest in the UK?

They would be the tallest onshore turbines in UK though only 10m taller than other proposed developments within central and southern Scotland.

What are the proposed blade lengths in comparison to the previous provision of blades on adjacent sites you've mentioned?

Proposed rotor diameters are up to the region of around 160m and although larger than surrounding wind farms, are in line with proposed developments in the wider area.  Increased rotor diameters also improve the efficiency of the energy output generation.

These are tall turbines – will you be able to see them from everywhere?

We appreciate that a wind farm of this scale will invariably have significant visual effects as a result of their form and locational requirements.  Landscape and visual impact assessment work has being used to gain an understanding of the visibility and character of the Site in order to reach an acceptable layout. A full detailed assessment will be included as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment. It has considered key viewpoints such as Loudon Hill, Drumclog, Darvel, local roads etc, as well as all residential properties within 1km of the site.

What about private water supplies and how they are affected?

As part of the site design process we are working with the Environmental Health Officer and  landowners to identify private water supplies within the potential zone of influence of the site. During the environmental impact assessment, any potential effects of the proposed wind farm on the identified private water supplies will be fully considered.

If we are successful through the planning process, we will undertake a baseline water quality assessment in advance of construction works beginning. We will test the surface and ground water on site and at outlet points, as well as requesting to sample any households identified from our design works. These results will be provided to the parties and the Environmental Health Officer. We will then continue monitoring through the construction period to keep on top of any non-standard deviations.

What about aviation? Will there be lights?

A detailed Aviation Impact Assessment will be undertaken  and we will work with aviation stakeholders to agree a mitigation strategy if required. As the turbines are over 150m they will need to be lit, but we are working on identifying solutions to minimise the visibility of lights on the ground e.g. shielding solutions

Where will the electricity generated connect into the Grid?

Mill Rig will be connected to the National Grid distribution network via Kilmarnock South substation.

The routeing of the connection to local Grid Supply Points will be given consideration for both overhead line and underground connection. This will be formally assessed under Section 37 of the Electricity Act 1989, however as much information as possible on potential grid connection options will be included in the planning application for the wind farm.

The grid connection proposal talks about overhead wires. Is it possible to put them underground?

We have contracted with Scottish Power on the basis of most economical viable solution both the project and the end user.  The overhead lines are wooden poles as opposed to steel towers to minimise the visual impact on the local area.

There is an existing power connection to Kilmarnock Power Station from a previous project in the area, is the proposed development seeking to utilise an existing or create a new Power connection? Will there be extra capacity that landowners are able to tap into and make use of to deliver their own renewables projects?

A new grid connection to Kilmarnock South substation will be constructed and managed by National Grid who will determine how any future renewables projects will connect to the network.

Who owns the land that the wind farm will be built on?

Wilson Forest Products are the main landowner for the wind farm.

How many trees will this wind farm cut down and destroy?

The proposed windfarm is located in an extensive area of conifer dominated commercial forestry and, therefore, an area of this forestry will need to be removed to facilitate its construction. To minimise the amount of forestry being felled we are looking to keyhole the turbines into the forestry, which means that we will only remove the trees around the turbines and the infrastructure, leaving the reminder of the forest intact.

At this stage we do not know how many trees will be removed; this will be confirmed once a complete design has been set for the wind farm. It is likely that there will be a requirement for compensatory planting measures to comply with the Scottish Government’s Control of Woodland Policy.

The purpose of this policy is to take a holistic view on the replanting of trees felled to benefit the environment overall if replanting is necessary. Woodland removal should be kept to a minimum and where woodland is felled, it should be replanted. The policy only supports woodland removal where it would achieve significant and clearly defined public benefits. In some cases compensatory planting may form part of this balance.

36mw total output seems low for 10turbines 250m tip height.

The site design and layout is still in development, with a range of turbine options being considered. The provided site data includes a number of feasible options for the development, with these figures to be updated as the design progresses.

Have you had any pre-planning discussions with the local councils - ie South Lanarkshire and East Ayrshire?

Yes we are engaged in ongoing discussions with them.

We have enough wind turbines around Strathaven already

Scotland has an excellent wind profile and onshore wind represents one of the best natural resources we have.  It brings jobs, investment and growth to the country and local areas as well as being the most affordable way of generating renewable energy which helps bring energy costs down.  South Lanarkshire have allocated this part of the region to be suitable for wind proposals of this scale.  Our approach at Banks is to develop these projects with care for people, the environment and to invest with local firms that support local jobs.

Why don't you do Solar or wave?

Onshore wind energy is a well-established form of generating renewable electricity. As part of Banks renewables expanding portfolio, we are also developing a number of solar farms across the UK to add balance to the UKs energy generation and complement our existing successful wind farm developments.

Are there any plans for an energy storage solution on site?

We don’t have plans to develop any energy storage solutions for the site any further, but we may explore this as a possibility in the future.

 

Any plans to make the farm into a visitor centre once operational?

At this stage we don’t have any plans to build a visitor centre at the Mill Rig Wind farm.  We do understand that it is important to engage with the community on the project and intend to facilitate visits to the site, working together with local groups, schools and those interested in renewable energy.

At what stage in the 5 year process will the establishment of the community planning group take place.

Construction and Operation

What is in it for us and why should we support this?

Onshore wind is the lowest cost renewable energy that can be generated in Scotland. It’s one of our best and cleanest natural resources. This keeps household bills lower as well as providing a way of investing in communities so that they can take steps to improve the wellbeing of local people.

Our wind farm proposal will deliver up to £180,000 per year in community benefits when operational and invest millions into the local economy through the construction period.   We will take great care to develop these proposals to ensure that we maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits for your local community.

What do you do if there is a problem with the water supply?

Developing with care is something that matters to us, indeed is at the heart of all we do, and we take potential impacts very seriously. The intended outcome is that local water supplies are not impacted by the turbines or construction.  If any incidental impact occurs as a direct result of the project we will apply a ‘good neighbours’ approach to remedy the issue.  Any direct and clear impact from the wind farm we will address and remedied.

What about the construction disruption? Will there be access to the site during construction?

During construction we will look to minimise disruption to communities in the direct vicinity of the site and along the main access routes. We will do this by minimising deliveries during peak times and, where possible, limiting intrusive on-site activities during the hours of darkness.

With all of the above we will work closely with the local community to minimise any impact. Examples of feedback that are useful for us include school bus timings, normal pick up points and information about local events such as hot air balloon shows, or firework displays where footfall and on street parking will be busier than normal. Access to the site will be limited during construction based on safety considerations, but we will work closely with the local community to determine an access approach that takes their views into consideration.

How much Govt subsidy will you get for Mill Rig?

The project is still in the early design stage and as such we do not know how much, if any, subsidies will be available.

Is this electricity going to be used by local people only?

Mill Rig will be connected to the National Grid distribution network via Kilmarnock South substation. Renewable energy from onshore wind lowers household bills as it is the cheapest form of energy generation.

Will Mill Rig electricity be sold on a private wire?

There are no plans for a private wire connection.

Where will the steel for the towers sections be manufactured? I hope in the newly back on line Motherwell steel works?

The turbines will be procured through a separate third party turbine supplier which is yet to be confirmed, and will have their own targeted supply chain.

How will you get the big turbines to the site? I hope you will not damage my house in the process! I live next to the main road near the site.....

The turbines will be delivered from King V docks in Glasgow down through Strathaven along the A71. The delivery of these turbines will be assessed and designed by an expert transport consultant to find the most efficient and safest route through any constrictive areas.

How many people will Mill Rig employ when it is operational?

Operational wind farms require only minimal permanent staff presence as part of the monitoring and maintenance procedures. The total number of staff is yet to be confirmed, however there are also a number of additional trades and professionals who visit the site periodically as part of the ongoing operation and maintenance of the wind farm during its life cycle.

How many people will Mill Rig employ during the construction phase?

As the design is still being progressed, the construction details are yet to be confirmed. As part of the planning process, a construction method statement will be developed which will inform the scale of construction. Construction will always aim to be efficiently programmed to reduce the impact on the local area.

Are the figures you have using nameplate capacity, average capacity or something else? What is the cost (environmental and monetary) to provide appropriate backup energy sources for when your wind turbines are not producing energy due to lack of wind?

The wind farm generation is based on the turbine nameplate capacity. Energy generation comes from a range of sources to provide a balance to the UKs energy needs. When wind energy output is lower, additional energy sources are relied upon and managed by the National Grid.

Are the figures you have using nameplate capacity, average capacity or something else?

The wind farm generation is based on the turbine nameplate capacity.

What blade length is being considered and how is it proposed to deliver them to the site?

Blades of 80m have been considered as part of the transport assessment. The turbines will be delivered from King V docks in Glasgow down through Strathaven along the A71. The delivery of these turbines will be assessed and designed by an expert transport consultant to find the most efficient and safest route through any constrictive areas.

Will there be a fund set up within Banks or another entity to ensure that there will be appropriate funding to remove the turbines, foundations and restore the site to the existing condition (or improved environment)?

Banks will enter an agreement with the local authority to ensure the site is returned as close as practicable to the current ground conditions at the end of the working life cycle. This fund will cover the removal of turbines and foundation upstands will be removed and covered over.

Will Mill Rig help Scotland achieve its target of 100% renewable electricity in 2030?

Its output of 36MW will be a significant contribution to Scotland’s target to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030.  Onshore wind projects are the lowest cost forms of renewable energy and provide the most commercial route to market for consumers, meaning that they keep energy bill low.

 

Will local schools be able to visit the wind farm when it is built to learn about renewable energy?

Once the wind farm is built and there is a safe environment for people to visit, Banks will invite local schools and other community groups to visit the site and learn about how a renewable project such as this takes shape and impacts the local and wider area.  With each of our projects we plan to actively engage with young people to educate and inspire them to one day be involved with engineering projects such as this.

I have a concern about the ponds and wildlife on the site during and after construction. How we will avoid disturbing this delicate habitat?

We are at the early stages of the design process, and we will be treating these water bodies as key design considerations. As such, we will certainly not be placing turbines in them.  These are very close to the existing wind farm tracks, which we will be improving to facilitate our proposed development. Therefore, our designs for the construction period may include environmental protection measures specific to these areas to conserve the habitat effectively.

Our Environmental management plan for the site as a whole will include a period post construction to ensure the natural environment is re-established and indeed, where we can, improved upon.

 

Community

What is the potential to support local people in gaining employment?

As part of our Connect2Renewables approach, we work together with local suppliers who will in turn employ local people to deliver their work during the construction and operation of the wind farm.  At this stage the construction phase is 3 years away and some local jobs will be needed then.  On the Kype Muir construction over 80% of the contracts were sourced locally. However, there are not many dry stone walling requirements on wind farms unfortunately.

Today, In our Connect2Renewables initiative, a portion of the community benefit fund is used to support local people into employment.  If there is support for this continuing with the Mill Rig development, we will look at how we might make that part of the planning application for this project.

How much will the local community get?

As well as significant investment during the construction and operation of the windfarm, there will be a community benefit of £5,000 per MW per annum during the life of the windfarm.  Based on current projections for the 10 turbines and the 250m tip height, this would translate into £180,000 per annum for the local community.  We will collaborate with local people, community councils and the local authority to determine how this money is used to deliver meaningful impact

It is good to see a developer engaging with the community, despite the Covid crisis - will you be holding future consultation events to provide more detail, when you have the information?

We will be holding future consultation events once we have developed the design further and can present the proposal in more depth.  We expect the next events will take place in October-December.

We are interested in the outcome of the polls, if this was available can you share them with us?

We will post the results of the initial polls on the website once the initial design phase has completed.

What is the obligation for Banks to work with the council on community benefits? Is this legal or more convention?

It is helpful to read the guidance on the link below for South Lanarkshire:

here

In short, we are not legally obligated to put the money through their Renewable Energy Fund or create the fund in a manner which they dictate, however it is incumbent upon us to demonstrate how the impact of these funds meets – broadly – the needs set out In this document.  One aspect that is important to consider is how the cross-border benefit will be viewed.  Again, at this stage we are intending to work on the basis of proximity but we still are at early stages and we have to put forth a proposal that meets the needs of both councils in order to achieve that.

How can we be sure that our community council will be involved with the community benefit fund moving forward?

We can commit to continuing to engage with community councils during the development of the community benefit fund.  Given the early stages of development and the various stakeholders involved, we can’t commit to what the outcome of that will be at this point, however, this will be built around the situational needs of the local communities and the process of engagement. Not all of the projects have the same outcome and hence we don’t want to over-commit and suggest that the format will follow the previous projects in terms of outcome and we of course need to understand from each of the councils how they will view cross-border benefit for such a project. Again, our intention is to base these on proximity to the site, regardless of boundaries.

Any plans to make the farm into a visitor centre once operational?

At this stage we don’t have any plans to build a visitor centre at the Mill Rig Wind farm.  We do understand that it is important to engage with the community on the project and intend to facilitate visits to the site, working together with local groups, schools and those interested in renewable energy.

 

We feel strongly that learning about projects such as these can inspire people to develop a career in renewable energy, and build a better understanding on Scotland’s contribution to fighting climate change.

Banks Group

How many people does Banks employ?

Banks Group employ over 250 people across its Renewables, Mining and Property businesses.

Who owns the Banks Group

The Banks Group is a family owned, County Durham based, business employing 250 people across the north of England and Scotland. It was established in 1976.

The core values of our business are to undertake all our projects in a sensitive and careful manner, developing each site with sensitivity and consideration for people, the environment and the local economy.

Get in touch

We welcome your feedback

Whether you wish to tell us that we have done something really well or that we could have done something better we value your feedback.

It helps us to shape the way we operate and to continually improve our performance. It is very much part of our development with care approach.

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