The Lochend Wind Farm Extension Project 

The Proposal

The Lochend Wind Farm Extension Project seeks to expand upon the four wind turbines which were commissioned by Constantine in 2017. The site exists to the east of Lochend, 8 kilometres southwest of John 0′ Groats and 16 kilometres east of Thurso, in Caithness.

The proposal is to extend the existing wind farm site with a further 5 wind energy turbines, each of up to 149.9 m tip height and 4.2 Megawatts (MW) capacity, as well as 10 MW of battery storage.

The existing site consists of 4 wind turbines each of 99.5 m tip height 2.3 MW capacity. In its first year of production, these four wind turbines produced 22,102 MWh of electricity. This is power generated equivalent to the annual demand of 6,823 homes – or a reduction in carbon emissions by 9,371 tonnes compared to non-renewable electricity generators.*

The proposed turbines are larger and generate significantly more energy, likely equivalent to the annual demand of 25,934 homes, a reduction in carbon emissions of 35,616 tonnes each year. See the Benefits section below for more detail.

In 2022 we held held two online public Q&A sessions to consult the local community on the extension proposal, and in 2023 this was expanded by another three public meetings in the local area, at Dunnet. While these sessions have all been completed, and feedback received and reacted upon, CWE is happy to receive feedback at any time and via any form of communication. Please see our contact details below.

The proposal can be seen in the adjacent plan. The layout takes into account:

 

  • Avoidance of areas of specific ecological concern such as identified bird flight paths
  • Avoidance of peat
  • Avoidance of watercourses
  • Avoidance of tree felling
  • Keeping to a compact footprint
  • Use of existing infrastructure
  • Stability of the local grid through battery storage
  • Reducing visibility as seen from key local viewpoints
  • The Spatial Framework for Onshore Wind Energy – areas with potential for wind farm development

See below key details and plans that have helped shape the proposal.

Ecology and Hydrology

In addition to the surveys that took place for the existing development, an Extended Phase 1 ecological survey was completed between 2020 and 2021.

The survey found:

The area is dominated by marshy grassland habitats which are subject to grazing from sheep and cattle. The floristic diversity varies significantly but the majority of areas are species-poor and dominated by soft rush.

Other significant habitats included areas of dry modified bog in the north, patches of dense scrub, small areas of wet dwarf shrub heath and flushed grassland along the burn. All of these habitats are significantly altered by current and historic land management practices.

Many of the habitats present, although botanically impoverished, do offer some ecological value with a number of the habitats identified as being potentially of moderate or high dependency on groundwater.

A protected species survey on otter and water voles was additionally completed in 2021. It concluded that otters are likely to infrequently use the surveyed area, and no place of shelter is present. Evidence of a small population of water voles has been found along the ditch network to the east of site. 

The proposed extension is set apart from, and does not require development over, any watercourse.

A Peat Depth Survey was completed in October 2021.

A total of 295 probes were undertaken across the site.

Of the 295 locations probed a total of 244 probes (82.7%) recorded depths of 0.5m or less and 20 probes recorded peat depths between >0.5m and 1.0m. A total of 31 probes located deep peat (>1.0m).  

Deep peat was found in the far north and far southeast of site as seen in the adjacent plan.

A further more detailed peat survey was completed in Winter 2023 in order to ensure that the southern planned turbine was not sited on or around peat.

The proposed extension does not require development over any area of deep peat.

 

Ornithology

Extensive ornithological surveys were undertaken for the existing development. Further ornithological surveys guided by The Highland Council and NatureScot took place between 2020 and 2021. These encompass a survey boundary extending up to 2 km from site.

These surveys were undertaken during both breeding and non-breeding periods.

No evidence of roosting was found within site, and within the 2km survey buffer only evidence of hen harrier roosting was found, to the north. The majority of recorded bird flight paths are north and west of site, outside of the site boundary. No carcasses or other signs of birds being struck by turbine blades were found during searches. 

Bat surveys also took place throughout 2021, and concluded that bat activity levels were broadly in line with similar sites in Scotland, being ‘Low to Moderate’ and that the habitat risk of the area surveyed was ‘Low’.

 

Close to the site there are a number of locations designated for ornithological interest, including several which support important numbers of geese, waders and raptors. However, surveys found that none of these locations will be significantly impacted by the development. 

Due to the anticipated need to disturb areas of habitat, it is proposed that vegetation clearance is undertaken outwith the breeding season which runs from March to August of any given year.

Examining the Site - Visuals and Heritage

Viewpoint locations for the below montages; proposed turbines numbered 1 (most northerly) to 5 (most southerly)

Extensive cultural heritage surveys were undertaken for the existing development, with a 10km buffer zone being examined.

While 16 locations of cultural heritage were identified within site, each is of local or lesser importance and would receive no significant impact.

A further variety of scheduled monuments and listed buildings fall within the examined buffer zone. Of these, key assets identified through consultation were the Castle of Mey, Thomsonfield Broch, and Earl’s Cairn. No significant impacts were predicted for any heritage asset with the exception of a moderate effect predicted for the site Earl’s Cairn.

Further heritage survey work will be undertaken in consultation with the appropriate consultees.

Zones of Theoretical Visibility and Major Heritage buildings (Existing Site)

Spatial Framework for Onshore Wind Energy (The Highland Council)

The proposal is in direct conformance with the Spatial Framework for Onshore Wind Energy, established by The Highland Council in August 2016, which can be found within the Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance of September 2016, and which identifies areas in the Highlands where wind farms are more capable of acceptance.

All of the proposed turbines are in Group 3, the area coloured blue in the adjacent map, an area clearly identified by the Council as an area with potential for wind farm development.

 

Benefits

The wind farm extension will bring substantial economic benefits to the local area:

Timeline

31 January 2022

Scoping Submission

With initial pre-application works taken place, a request for scoping was handed to the Council and feedback received throughout the next few months from a number of consultees.

2 March 2022

First Planning Application Notice and Design Workshop

A planning notification was submitted to the Council just before the time of a Workshop Design session with Council officers on 5 April.

24 March 2022

2022 Public Consultation 

Online meetings took place on 24 March and 21 April, alongside newspaper advertisements in the John O’ Groats Journal on 4 March and 11 March, and a local leaflet informational sent out 9 March.

06 September 2023

2023 Public Consultation

Meetings at a local hotel were advertised in the John O’ Groats Journal on 1 and 8 September and 20 October, a leaflet information drop took place for locals on 1 September, and in-person meetings took place 6 and 21 September and 7 November.

18 October 2023

Second (Current) Proposal of Application Notice 

The previous PAN was superseded by a new PAN to account for the stretched timeline of submission.

June 2024

Planning Application 

The submission of the planning application is due to take place.

* See renewableuk.com for further information and the methodology for these calculations

The Team

Bruce Hutt

 

Bruce has spent over 25 years in the renewable industry, and is responsible for new development as well as ensuring the operational efficacy of the Constantine wind fleet. 

Simon Tribe

Simon has managed the design and assessment of over 50 wind farms both onshore and offshore.

Daniel Hirons 

Daniel has been responsible for many aspects of the operations of Constantine’s wind fleet, and plays a key part in acquistions and site development, the fleet now consisting of nearly 200 turbines, for almost 5 years.

Enquiries and Communication


We seek to involve the community in our planning process. By working together and sharing information, we hope to promote dialogue and ensure clarity. 
Feedback is appreciated and may inform and improve the design decisions of the extension. 

Email: 
lochend@constantinewindenergy.com

Phone: 01483412065
Letter Address:
Daniel Hirons
Constantine Wind Energy
First Floor River Court
Mill Lane
Godalming
GU7 1EZ

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