Northland was successful in the outcome of the ScotWind leasing round in April 2022, winning the rights to develop Spiorad na Mara. The ScotWind leasing process enabled developers to apply for seabed rights in areas that had been previously identified by the Scottish Government in the Sectoral Marine Plan, to plan and build windfarms within pre-defined areas of Scottish waters. For further information, please visit: www.CrownEstateScotland.com
A summary of the leasing process has been made available by Crown Estate Scotland here:https://www.crownestatescotland.com/resources/documents/scotwind-leasing-launch-summary
Spiorad na Mara will provide new opportunities for the island and its communities, and represents a significant, new, and long-term investment into Scotland’s energy infrastructure. Spiorad na Mara will deliver substantial benefits to the local, regional, and national economies.
As well as the wider benefits offered by Spiorad na Mara in terms of low-cost electricity generation, greater energy security and reduced carbon emissions, local communities on the Isle of Lewis stand to benefit through different community initiatives, creating a legacy for generations to come. Some of the benefits to the island will include:
- A multi-million-pound community investment over the lifetime of the project, directly into local communities. The scope is still under development with future options to be consulted upon with local communities and their representatives. For example, it could include an investment fund, sponsorship and donation programmes, measures to address fuel poverty, support for educational initiatives, and a wide range of other opportunities.
- New and permanent long-term jobs; it is expected that between 80 and 120 new jobs will be created, across a variety of roles, for at least the next 35 years. These jobs will be advertised widely at the time.
- Across the project, between 750 and 1,000 new, temporary jobs are expected to be created over a three-year period of construction, with the team keen for as many of these as possible to be on the island.
- New skills/employment training and apprenticeship opportunities in the local area.
- New opportunities for the local supply chain, which will include working in partnership with our main contractors on the various phases of the project, as well as working directly with the project team.
The project also has plans for a Social Impact Assessment to be undertaken, which will consider both the current situation facing the island and how Spiorad na Mara may influence any changes to enable the promotion of positive effects and mitigation or avoidance of negative effects.
We encourage and welcome feedback on how community investment can work for the island, including the type of activities and groups it might support and who should be involved in making decisions on how funding should be distributed. Please email any thoughts to .
Communities hosting wind farms have traditionally benefitted in a number of ways, for example, from the introduction of a local community investment fund, where communities and companies have worked in partnership to maximise opportunities and create lasting legacies, and an increase in local business trade, such as hotel accommodation and supply chain opportunities.
With the project in the early stages of development, we are currently exploring a number of potential options for community investment and benefits, which will be developed over the months and years ahead. A discount on local community’s energy bills has already been suggested and is being explored further, however, no decisions have yet been made.
Working with local communities is an important part of how we want to develop Spiorad na Mara. We are committed to developing the project in the right way, not only bringing benefits to the environment and the economy but also to local communities for generations to come.
We continue to encourage local communities to share their thoughts with us and let us know what they would like to see in place, including the type of activities and groups investment might support, how access to funding can be made as fair as possible, and who should be involved in making decisions on how funding should be distributed.
We will ensure that Spiorad na Mara is developed to the highest environmental standards in consultation and engagement with all relevant stakeholders and authorities.
The project will undertake a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) to assesses the potential effects, be they positive, neutral, or negative, on the environment, people and local communities which may arise from the development. The findings and conclusions of both assessments will help shape the ongoing development and design of the project.
A complete and comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) will accompany the planning application to the Marine Directorate and records the EIA for an extensive range of topics.
These topics include:
Offshore Specific Assessments
Onshore Specific Assessments
Whole Project Assessments
Spiorad na Mara is set in an area approximately 5-13 kilometres off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis. As part of our Environmental Impact Assessment, we will undertake a Seascape & Landscape Visual Impact Assessment (SLIVA) to see how the project will look from a number of different locations. The SLIVA aims to identify, predict, and evaluate the potential effects on the seascape, landscape, and visual resource. The onshore infrastructure will also be considered through a Landscape Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) and as per the offshore infrastructure will predict how the project will look from a number of different locations.
In line with guidance we have received from NatureScot, recommending a design led approach we are working to establish the key design principles which we will use to inform the layout of the project and what it will look like.
During our first phase of formal public consultation, which is expected to take place in Spring 2024, we aim to share photomontages of the project from a broad range of viewpoints, for members of the local community to see and share their feedback.
Local communities have a number of opportunities to voice their support or concerns. Spiorad na Mara will undertake at least two formal phases of public consultation throughout 2024, as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, sharing detailed information and seeking local input and feedback.
The planning process itself also encourages local communities to submit their views for consideration.
In addition to the legal requirements for consultation mentioned above, the project team will continue to engage with local communities and stakeholders, providing updates, answering questions, gathering input and feedback.
For Spiorad na Mara to proceed, it will require several consents from the Scottish Government. It will also need to be successful in a future, competitive Contract for Difference auction once planning consent has been secured.
Feedback received will be considered and incorporated into the application which will be submitted to the Marine Directorate, Licencing and Operations Team, under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 (as amended), which is expected towards the end of 2024.
Potential impacts on tourism and opportunities for coastal communities will be considered as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, which will be submitted with the planning application, together with a Social Impact Assessment which will be completed by the project.
Where possible, we will always try to recruit locally for roles within the project and have recently opened an office in Stornoway where we currently have two of the development team permanently based.
- It is expected that between 80 and 120 new, long-term jobs will be created, across a variety of roles, for at least the next 35 years.
- During construction, between 750 and 1,000 new temporary jobs are expected to be created across the project, over a period of three years.
- New training and apprenticeship opportunities will also be created.
- Vacancies will be advertised widely at the time they become available, including on our website, providing local people with the opportunity to apply for roles within the project.
All electricity generated at Spiorad na Mara will be delivered into the Scottish national grid via the planned Western Isles Interconnector.
The project is jointly owned by Northland Power (75.5%) and ESB (24.5%). No communities or individuals have invested in the project.
Working in partnership with a locally based design agency, we undertook local research and engagement to ensure that the new names of both ScotWind projects reflected the local area, its heritage, culture, and history.
Throughout the renewable energy industry, it is commonplace for projects located in a certain area to reflect the local language. This includes many onshore and offshore wind farm projects in Scotland and Wales.
The new names and identities took their inspiration from Scottish and Nordic folklore, with tales often overlapping with the Western Isles‘ strong connection to the Norse culture. With the designs encapsulating the deep connection that local people have with the sea and the environment, they bring together the past, present, and future relationships between the islands, their people, and their stories.
The project name, Spiorad na Mara, and the logo design are built on the traditional values that folk spirits represented, whilst also looking toward the future of the island and the positive change they can grow to symbolise for many years to come.
We were encouraged by the support we received for the considered and consultative approach we adopted and look forward to building upon this by integrating the Gaelic language and island culture into an islands-specific interpretation of Northland’s Community Commitment Policy.
Subject to all the necessary consents being received and a successful outcome in a future Contract for Difference auction, construction could start in 2028 with completion in 2031.
In 2018, a first major study1 to address the impact of offshore wind turbines on property prices of nearby residential and vacation properties in Denmark (a country that has had offshore wind for 30 years), concluded that having an ocean view of the wind farms from the house itself or from nearby beaches had no significant impact on property prices, in comparison to having a sea view without a wind farm.
The study included two Danish offshore wind farms that are relatively close to the shore – Nystad at 3.5km and Rødsand 9km. In neither case were property prices affected by the presence of offshore wind farms. Spiorad na Mara is located between 5km and 13km from the coast.
As part of the design evolution and Environmental Impact Assessment process for the Spiorad na Mara array area and associated cable corridor, geophysical, geotechnical, and environmental surveys are required to determine the seabed conditions and characterise the site. These surveys are essential when undertaking any offshore wind farm development work and projects cannot be developed without this work being undertaken.
Wherever Northland Power operates around the world, we do so with absolute sensitivity to the marine environment. Our surveys will always follow local best practice standards and all applicable regulations. Due diligence will be exercised at all times, to ensure that survey activities are carried out lawfully regarding European Protected Species and their protection from disturbance and injury under the Habitats Regulations.
- A geophysical survey is required to map the seabed, measure water depth, and characterise layers of sediment or rock below the seabed.
- A geotechnical survey is required to collect data from the seabed that will be used to confirm the data obtained from the geophysical survey and to inform cable routing, foundation design and placement of the wind turbines within the project array area.
- The environmental survey is required to map the distribution and extent of marine benthic biological communities and habitats within the project area.
The potential for turbines to generate noise will be assessed as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment and a detailed noise study will be undertaken by independent technical specialists to inform noise assessments. It is not expected that noise from operational turbines at Spiorad na Mara will be audible on shore. This is due to the distance of the offshore wind farm from the shore, combined with the levels of ambient (existing) noise at the coast.
Some temporary noise and vibration may occur during installation of the wind turbines and subsea cables. If required, mitigation measures will be put in place, so that the infrastructure can be constructed and operated within acceptable noise limits.
Generally, there is no reason why fishing and offshore wind farms cannot co-exist, and fishing continues today in and around many offshore wind farms in many parts of the world.
The project has employed a specific Fisheries Liaison team, which consists of a local Fisheries Industry Representative (FIR) and a Company Fisheries Liaison Officer (CFLO). In addition, Offshore Fisheries Liaison Officers (OFLO) will be present on relevant vessels working in the project area.
Following construction of the wind farm, it is proposed that the project area will continue to be open to fishing with cooperation and communication principles agreed with the local fisheries representatives. During site investigations and construction activities, temporary exclusion areas will be identified in consultation with fisheries organisations and Safety Zones around vessels undertaking construction activities or for infrastructure partially constructed will be sought. The project commits to communicating with the fishing industry in a timely manner to encourage long-term cooperation.
The use of turbine lighting is an important consideration within the Environmental Impact Assessment process, where projects seek to mitigate impacts as far as practicable.
A modern offshore wind turbine is designed to operate for more than 25 years. Carbon Payback is a term referring to the period of time for which a wind turbine needs to be in operation before it has, by displacing generation from fossil-fuelled power stations, avoided as much carbon dioxide as released in its lifecycle. There have been many studies on the Carbon Payback of a wind turbine. Estimates for the Carbon Payback of offshore wind range from 5 months to 1 year.