SSE Renewables’ proposed Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm takes a step closer to realisation after East Lothian Council grants planning permission in principle for the project’s onshore transmission infrastructure and grid connection at Branxton, south of Dunbar in East Lothian.

Securing planning consent in principle for the onshore grid network will enable renewable energy generated by the proposed offshore wind farm to be transmitted to the national grid via onshore cable infrastructure and a new substation at Branxton. This is a major milestone for the project as it represents the first planning consent for the Berwick Bank offshore wind project to be granted. SSE Renewables will follow up this planning consent in principle with a detailed design planning application to East Lothian Council in due course.

An application for consent for the offshore infrastructure needed to develop the project is currently before the Scottish Government. SSE Renewables is hopeful of receiving a final determination from Scottish Government ministers early in the new year. If consented for delivery in a timely manner, it could pave the way for Berwick Bank to enter the next round of the UK’s renewable energy auctions, Allocation Round 6 (AR6).

Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm, set to be located roughly 38 kilometres off the East Lothian coast in Scotland, could generate up to 4.1GW of power, making it the largest offshore wind farm planning application to be submitted in the UK and one of the largest offshore opportunities in the world currently in development. 

If fully delivered, Berwick Bank would increase Scotland’s overall renewable energy capacity in operation today by nearly 30%. It would be capable of generating enough renewable energy to power over 6 million homes annually* – that’s the same as all the homes in Scotland twice over. And it could offset almost 8 million tonnes of harmful carbon emissions^ from being released into the atmosphere each year – similar to eliminating all of Scotland’s annual car emissions.

SSE Renewables is targeting a final investment decision on the project in 2025, subject to receiving a timely consent and offtake contract. If greenlit for delivery, Berwick Bank could provide a multi-billion-pound investment boost to the Scottish and UK supply chain. An economic impact study carried out by independent renewable energy consultants, BVG Associates (BVGA), has shown that at peak construction in 2026, the project could create around 4,650 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Scotland, and 9,300 in the UK – adding an estimated £8.3 billion to the UK economy as a whole over the lifetime of the project.

SSE Renewables Berwick Bank project director Alex Meredith, commented: “Berwick Bank is a pioneering project that, if given the green light, will help Scotland achieve net zero by 2045. The development will support the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. 

“We welcome this planning consent from East Lothian Council, which comes at a crucial time with COP28 currently underway, reflecting our collective commitment to tackling the climate emergency. 

“The onshore grid network is an immensely important part of the project; simply put, without this element, the project could not continue. With consent now granted from East Lothian Council for planning permission in principle, we can progress to a detailed design which will allow us to build the infrastructure required to support the conversion of clean, green energy into the national grid. 

“The next steps for Berwick Bank are to secure planning consent for the offshore part of the project, which we’re hoping to receive early in the new year from the Scottish Government. From there, we will look to move very quickly into the UK’s next CfD auction, where a successful outcome would enable us to move forward with the final investment decision and construction of the project.” 

As part of SSE Renewables’ ongoing community engagement in areas in which the company lives and works, an independent survey was conducted by Opinion Matters to gather thoughts of people from East Lothian about the proposed Berwick Bank project and renewable energy as a whole. 

The survey showed that over 70% of respondents expressed support for the Berwick Bank Offshore Wind Farm. The majority cited the economic and climate benefits, highlighting the project’s potential to boost the local economy and contribute to Scotland’s renewable energy targets.

If approved, Berwick Bank Wind Farm will form part of SSE plc’s Net Zero Acceleration Programme Plus, a fully funded five-year investment plan which will see SSE Renewables investing over £7bn to 2027, or almost £4m a day on average, to deliver new installed renewables generation to help address climate change head-on.

Image source: Courtesy of SSE Renewables

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