By Alex Meredith

SCOTLAND has one of the best offshore wind resources in the world. This is the decade we can harness it.

It is not just the climate emergency and the urgency required towards decarbonisation that we must consider. The war in Ukraine has illustrated the need to enhance our energy security and self-sufficiency here in the UK and move beyond over-reliance on fossil fuels.

The UK’s record in getting offshore wind projects up and running in recent years has been mixed. We have not matched our potential with delivery and projects have been slow to come to fruition. We now have the opportunity to step up the speed and scale and bring forward world-leading projects that can be delivered this decade providing fast, practical solutions to the climate crisis.

Berwick Bank, in the Outer Firth of Forth, will be one of the largest offshore renewable energy developments in the world and the project is critical to meeting the UK and Scottish governments’ 2030 offshore wind targets.

It represents a huge opportunity to secure multi-billion-pound investment in the Scottish supply chain and will ultimately generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than five million homes, equivalent to supplying all of Scotland’s households twice over.

The project will be consented by Scottish Government which has been at the forefront of the drive towards renewables. The UK Government has also signalled its support for offshore wind projects as part of its recently published energy strategy about how to streamline the approval process. We have been urging both UK and Scottish governments to help us move quickly to deliver the projects the country needs.

One of the key ways to do that is to work with regulators and stakeholders in the early stages of development to identify potential sticking points and address them before the planning application is made.

For example, at Berwick Bank, we have been in discussions with groups including the RSPB and Scottish fishers regarding our eco-system approach to dealing with the management of seabird populations. That is why we will be proposing a halt to sandeel fishing (which the birds feed on) in key parts of the North Sea to ensure populations can thrive in the years ahead.

Implementing this measure would result in a huge net gain for Scottish seabirds as a result of the delivery of Berwick Bank. It’s a win-win.

SSE Renewables has already proposed additional measures to protect birds such as raising the minimum height of the turbine blades from 22m to 37m above sea level to address for bird passage through the site.

Time is of the essence. A fast consenting process can give confidence to investors and supply chains so investments can be made in the Scottish and UK economy to create much needed high-value green jobs.

By consenting Berwick Bank and delivering the closure of sandeel fishing we can show the world Scotland has the positive solution-focused regulatory environment that will allow offshore development and our iconic seabirds to thrive.

Alex Meredith is project director on SSE Renewables’ Berwick Bank wind farm project