Five years after first feasibility study, comprehensive environmental analysis and evidence wins the day.
The Isle of Coll is set to see its first large scale wind turbine following successful representation by Atmos Consulting of Gallanach Green Generation Ltd’s planning application. The application was approved at a Discretionary Hearing, on the island, of the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing committee of Argyll and Bute Council.
The original feasibility studies were carried out in 2008 for a community group, so the process has been lengthy. When the community did not take the project forward following the feasibility work, a local landowner did, and set up Gallanach Green Generation Ltd. Atmos Consulting scoped the project and was able to establish that it did not require a full Environmental Impact Assessment, thereby creating significant savings for the project company.
Atmos had originally submitted a planning application to Argyll and Bute Council in October 2011 for a two 750kW turbine project (77m to tip) on behalf of Gallanach Green Generation Ltd, an island based rural business.
However, there were a number of local objections which led to the applicant making the significant additional mitigation of dropping one turbine from the application. The project has been a model of cooperation with planners and their advisors resulting in the planners being able to recommend approval of the revised project. Nevertheless the planners recommended a Discretionary Hearing to be held on the island. The focus of discussion at the Hearing was the recent Wind Energy Capacity Study commissioned jointly by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Argyll and Bute Council. This study focussed on landscape character assessments, and while it had not specifically considered the islands of Coll or Tiree, the strategic advice within the report suggested that turbines over 50m would be inappropriate on Coll.
Atmos Consulting, whose team includes landscape architects, argued and demonstrated that the site in question had characteristics which enabled the proposal to be accommodated without unacceptable visual impacts, and the go-ahead was given. Part of the generous community benefit offer was to make the planning related data and the land for the ‘second’ turbine available to the community. The community council will now decide whether it wants to progress the second turbine, as proposed in the original October 2011 application.
This decision comes soon after the Scottish Government has announced both new funding, available too late for this project, under the CARES (the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme), and set a new target of 500MW to be generated from projects owned by community groups and rural businesses. “Gallanach’s success will be attracting interest throughout the country,” said Atmos Consulting director Fraser Mackenzie.
Grid connection is secured for the consented turbine and it is anticipated that construction will begin next summer.
Notes to editors:
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Atmos Consulting is an environmental consultancy, specialising in renewable energy sustainable development, with offices in located in England, Scotland and Wales.
Atmos specialists provide expert technical, environmental and planning support and advice to developers, industry, communities, utilities, and the public sector throughout the entire project life-cycle from feasibility to implementation.
With over 40 professionals, including 28 ecologists, located in Inverness, Edinburgh, Mold (North Wales), County Durham and East Anglia, Atmos Consulting is strategically placed to assist in the efficient delivery of successful projects, ensuring that its clients can achieve the right balance between desired project outcome and environmental protection.
The broad range of specialist skills within the Atmos team ensures that the consultancy is able to address cross-sectoral challenges and assist with projects across all technologies and scales.
Atmos has provided expert advice on projects of all scales and takes pride in adopting a professional, innovative and client-focused approach to our work. The range of in-house skills offered enables particular expert guidance on the design, management and evaluation of projects at every stage of the planning and delivery phase to ensure the development is as profitable as it is environmentally sound.
Atmos Consulting skills include:
• Feasibility Studies and Environmental Impact Assessments for a wide range of sustainable projects including: biomass, carbon capture and storage technology power stations; on and off-shore wind farms and post-construction monitoring; hydro power, residential, industrial and mixed-use developments, ecological survey and analysis
• A wide variety of Ecological and Ornithological surveys and assessment
• Full in-house assessment, analysis and monitoring capabilities for a range of projects; from access design to resource optimisation
• Noise assessment, monitoring and analysis
• Design and management of a wide variety of renewable energy and sustainable development projects
• Landscape characterisation and impact assessment services for urban and rural projects
• Town and country planning consultancy, planning applications, appeals, and planning policy
• Marine ecology services for wind, wave, tidal and new technology projects
• Due diligence for clients requiring objective reviews of site and project portfolios
• Expert witness at public inquiries
For more information, please visit www.atmosconsulting.com or follow us on twitter @atmosconsulting