Windfarm bid to buy land facing public inquiry

Sunday June 4th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A public inquiry is to be held into plans to force land owners into selling part of their sites to the operators of potentially one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms in East Lothian.

The proposals by SSE Renewables face opposition from the operators of Torness Nuclear Power Station, Network Rail, Scottish Powers and private land owners.

The Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm project, would bring energy onshore at Skateraw and then require a connection into the National Grid at Branxton, near Torness.

SSE Renewables applied to Scottish Ministers for a Compulsory Purchase Order to be approved allowing it to take ownership of land required for the new connection.

Objectors raise concerns about the speed in which the order was submitted, a lack of time given for response, the ‘excessive’ land requirements included and the loss of prime agricultural ground.

Network Rail said it objected because the proposed route for cables involved railway land.

EDF said the order was ‘premature’ arguing that the wind farm had not received consent and the need for compulsory purchase was not yet established.

The Torness operator added the impact on the power station had not been adequately addressed saying: “The project will have an operational impact and an impact on the defuelling of the Torness Nuclear Power Station.”

ScottishPower also raised concerns it could impact its £1.3 billion Eastern Link project, which aims to run energy from Torness to County Durham in England.

Yesterday the Scottish Government Reporter wrote to those involved to say that due to the objections a ‘public local inquiry’ will be held with pre inquiry hearings due to take place virtually at the end of this month.

They said site visits in relation to the inquiry are likely to begin in mid August adding: “Scottish Ministers will determine the [Compulsory Purchase] Order.

“A Reporter has been appointed to hold a public inquiry with respect to the objections to the Order and to report his findings and recommendations to Scottish Ministers.”

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