Avonmouth Wind Power Project
Environmental Impact Assessment
Client: Wessex Water
Services: Planning / Ecology / Landscape / Graphics
As the regional water and sewage treatment provider, Wessex Water is an energy intensive business. The company has long adopted a corporate objective to achieve genuinely sustainable operations and accordingly sought to increase on-site renewable energy generation by installing wind turbines at Bristol Sewage Treatment Works (BSTW), in Avonmouth.
Wind turbines are large, dynamic structures which can cause a range of environmental impacts. Development constraints at BSTW included proximity to aircraft safety zones and aviation radar coverage at Filton Airfield, a substantial network of telecommunications links, proximity to a Scheduled Monument, designation of part of the STW as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and potential for indirect effects on the nearby Severn Estuary, a European site of nature conservation importance.
The Landmark Practice scoped the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of development of three wind turbines at the BSTW, in Avonmouth with the local planning authority (LPA) and also provided planning, ecology, ornithology and landscape input to the Environmental Statement (ES).
The application scheme was adjusted to address the findings of the EIA. One of the turbines that initially posed risk to bird and bat species was moved to a less sensitive position, and the energy generating potential of the site was enhanced by addition of a fourth turbine to the scheme.
The ES concluded that the proposed wind turbines could be accommodated without unacceptable environmental impact, as long as recommended mitigation measures were secured. Key measures were to monitor, and compensate if necessary, disturbance impacts on birds and bats, and to implement strategies agreed with the telecoms regulators and the nearby airfield to remove risk of disruption to air safety and telecommunications links. The Landmark Practice managed the EIA technical team, edited and produced the ES and represented the applicant in consultation with stakeholders.
The robust EIA process demonstrated the potential for energy to be generated close to the point of demand, even if the site initially appeared to be environmentally sensitive. Planning approval for the wind turbines was granted in March 2009 by unanimous planning committee decision. The turbines are now operational.