The site team have made up time since the shutdown at the end of 2010 as David Bill, Contracts Manager at main contractor I & H Brown, explains:
“Our original scheduling did take into account that the Winter in the area would make it unlikely for us to maintain a full programme of works. However, we were naturally taken by surprise by the severity of the weather. We have managed to get back on schedule by increasing our resources on site and by working longer hours in order to take up all the available slack”.
The Glenkerie Wind Farm is being constructed by the Infinis group which is the UK’s leading purely renewable energy company producing approximately 10% of the UK’s renewable power. Infinis is a Terra Firma company, whose other renewable energy interests are Rete Rinnovabile (solar) in Italy and Everpower (onshore wind) in the United States.
Eric Machiels, Chief Executive of Infinis, commented: “We are delighted to be further extending our growing wind business by constructing the Glenkerie wind farm and still expect it to be operational in October 2011. Infinis is well positioned to benefit from the rapid growth of the renewable energy market required to meet the challenging European 2020 targets. This is a further step in Infinis’ growth as we continue with our aim of becoming Europe’s leading renewable energy generator.”
Currently on site the substation is being completed and the final touches are being put to the major concrete foundation structures. Throughout March, several kilometres of cabling will be installed to connect the eleven turbines to the new substation. I & H Brown’s contract with Infinis will be substantially completed in May, allowing the wind turbine supplier, Vestas, to commence installation. The farm is anticipated to achieve full production in late summer, contributing up to 19.3MW to the power grid and potentially powering over 16,000 homes. This is the equivalent of over 30% of the population of Scottish Borders local authority area where the wind farm is being constructed.
Ian Munro, I & H Brown’s Divisional Director of civil engineering, told Premier Construction that the remoteness of the site had created significant yet surmountable challenges. He said, “It’s always difficult having a single point of access to a site, but wind farms tend to be remote sites by nature and we are used to that. The access we created, including three bridges over watercourses which allow deliveries of up to 1,000t per day, has been enough to keep the project moving forward. We have had an excellent relationship with the nearby farmer, who has often allowed us temporary access over his property, thereby helping us to maintain progress. In general, a lot of effort has been put into communication around the project”.
The location has its advantages, however, according to Ian: “The topography of the site and the distance from towns and villages means that, to the vast majority of people in the area, especially drivers passing through on the nearest main road, the wind farm will be virtually invisible and present no obvious change to the landscape. To a certain degree in our case, this removes one of the challenges that can face developers where wind farms are concerned”.
In common with most modern large scale renewable developments site surveys have been undertaken to assess other ecological issues on the site, including protected species and habitats, as well as aquatic life. The majority of the site is made up of heath, grassland, rough pasture and woodland, which, in ecological terms, are generally considered to be of low value however a part of the wind farm access runs through a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This area required specific controls to be put in place during the construction works last year by I & H Brown as the adjacent watercourse was a tributary to the River Tweed. The project team were restricted to carrying out works adjacent to the watercourse to a prescribed environmental window. I & H Brown has adopted a rigorous environmental management plan for works in and around the site with particular emphasis on protection to the watercourses and the areas identifiend in the Environmental Statement as being sensitive. Excellent relationships have been maintained with SEPA, who have taken up invitations to visit the site to inspect the environmental protection measures that were put in place.
In addition to the ongoing environmental management, an extensive habitat management and improvement scheme will be installed over the course of the next year as part of the restoration of the site. This scheme has been designed to help and encourage existing flora and fauna including long term measures to protect the water courses and protected species on the site, such as black grouse, badger, otter, bats and reptiles.
In line with its corporate policy, Infinis placed a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that community consultation captured the views of local residents during the development of the project, providing the opportunity for them to comment on and influence the project at an early stage. The Glenkerie Wind Farm Trust Fund has also been established by Infinis with the project donating an annual sum for use in community related projects that will be linked to the output from the site.