Why This Site?
The site comprises approximately 1,044 hectares of largely open moorland, which slopes down to the shores of Loch Shin and is intersected by several minor watercourses. Access to the site is from the A838, along an existing access track through Merkland Estate, serving the Cassley Hydro Power Station.
This site is considered to be viable for the following reasons:
- Limited Impact on Local Settlements
- Straightforward Grid Connection
- Excellent Wind Speeds
- Avoids any National Designations
- Readily Accessible
Through the ongoing assessment, we have developed a design which minimises the impact of the proposed development on sensitive environment and species and are considering many aspects including:
- Ecology and Bird interests
- Cultural Heritage
- Landscape and Visual Effects
- Peat Depth
Landscape and Visual Impact
Potential Landscape and Visual effects:
- Focused in a part of WLA 34 that is shown in Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) data to have with relatively lower wildness qualities
- Limited physical impacts on wild land (turbine bases / access track etc.)
- The small footprint and ‘compact’ design of the wind farm ensures that it will affect a limited part of views
- Limited ZTV coverage – limited impact on NSA and Wild Land Areas – ensures that integrity is preserved
- Localised impact along Loch Shin, where human influences are already prevalent
- Low density / clutter / overlapping in views
- Design of the wind farm ensures that clustering and the overlapping of turbines is minimised
- Negligible impact on Glen Cassley
Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment Next Steps:
- Obtain feedback from consultees on the preferred layout / turbine size
- Consult with The Highland Council and Scottish National Heritage to agree preferred layout and viewpoints for the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA)
Visualisations of wind farms have a number of limitations which you should be aware of when using them to form a judgement on a wind farm proposal. These include:
- A visualisation can never show exactly what the wind farm will look like in reality due to factors such as: different lighting, weather and seasonal conditions which vary through time and the resolution of the image
- The images provided give a reasonable impression of the scale of the turbines and the distance to the turbines, but can never be 100% accurate
- A static image cannot convey turbine movement, or flicker or reflection from the sun on the turbine blades as they move
- The viewpoints illustrated are representative of views in the area, but cannot represent visibility at all locations
- To form the best impression of the impacts of the wind farm proposal these images are best viewed at the viewpoint location shown
- If viewing printed copies, you should hold the images flat at a comfortable arm’s length
- If you do view the images on screen, you should ideally do so using a normal PC screen with the image enlarged to the full screen height to give a realistic impression. A tablet or other device with a smaller screen should preferably not be used to view the visualisations
Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental impact assessment is a formal part of the planning process in the development of a wind farm. It involves undertaking environmental surveys of the proposed site to assess the potential significant environmental effects the wind farm may have, and to identify appropriate mitigation measures to eliminate or minimise these effects.
The Environmental Impact Assessment addresses –
- Landscape and Visual effects
- Ecology and Ornithology
- Geology, Hydrology and Hydrogeology
- Cultural Heritage
- Traffic and Transport
- Socio-Economic and Tourism
- Cumulative effects with other wind farm developments
The findings of these assessments will be presented in an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report.
This will be submitted to the Highland Council as a step in our application for consent, and copies of the EIA Report will be publicly available to view.
The Highland Council will review the application, taking into consideration views of stakeholders, including statutory bodies (e.g. SNH and SEPA) and local communities.
Desk and field-based assessments the hydrology and geology of the site have been undertaken to inform the layout of the wind farm. Detailed peat probing surveys have been undertaken across the site to determine peat type, depth and condition to inform an assessment of peatland habitats.
Two years of detailed bird surveys have identified the following potentially important species within the Sallachy project Study Area: black grouse, merlin, non-breeding golden eagle, golden plover and dunlin. The bird survey data will be used to assess the potential impact of the proposal on these bird species, including opportunities for conservation enhancement work.
Phase 1 Habitats, National Vegetation Classification (NVC) communities and potential Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems (GWDTE) were mapped and described and an assessment of peatland condition was made across the Study Area.
The main habitats were identified as blanket bog and wet dwarf shrub heath, with ribbons of purple moor-grass dominated wet modified bog running down the hill slope. There was evidence of erosion in the blanket bog with large and small erosion gullies and hagg systems present.
The delivery of large turbine components to site will be from the port of Invergordon. The transport route will follow the A9, before taking the A836 and A838 north west. Access to the site will be from the existing junction with the A838 at the north of Loch Shin.
Delivery and construction traffic will be carefully managed and scheduling and routing agree with the local authority.
Once operational, impacts of traffic and transport from the wind farm will be minimal.