The Ben Sca wind farm is located approximately 2km south of Edinbane and 7km to the east of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye. The map below shows the site (outlined in red) in the context of the surrounding area.
Ben Sca Wind Farm - November 2020 Consent
The Ben Sca wind farm, consented in November 2020, comprises seven wind turbines, each with a blade tip height of up to 135 metres.
The original planning application for the Ben Sca Wind Farm comprised 9 wind turbines, arranged in a single linear row.
In response to comments received from the Highland Council planners and consultees, primarily in relation to the potential landscape and visual effects resulting from the turbines located closest to the summit of Ben Sca, the project was reduced to 7 wind turbines, removing the two turbines on the highest ground.
The plan below shows the consented 7-turbine and associated infrastructure layout.
Ben Sca Wind Farm Extension - April 2022 Consent
To enhance the efficiency and associated benefits of the wind farm, the project team undertook a feasibility study looking at all environmental and technical constraints to ascertain whether two additional wind turbines could be accommodated within the site at a more suitable location to that originally proposed near the summit of Ben Sca. The project has a grid connection agreement in place to allow export from nine turbines and therefore the addition of two turbines to the consented seven will enable this export capacity to be maximised.
The most suitable location for the additional two turbines was identified to the northwest of the consented site, at the bottom of the row of consented turbines. These two turbines were proposed on lower ground within forestry so as to minimise landscape and visual impacts. In order to present a balanced design with the seven turbines previously consented and clear the tree canopy, the two additional wind turbines were proposed to have a tip height of 149.9m, but retain the same 115m rotor diameter as the other seven turbines.
The two Extension turbines were consented by The Highland Council in April 2022.
VP1 - A850 lay-by
VP2 - Edinbane Top Road
Proposed Amendments - September 2023
In September 2023, a screening and scoping request was submitted to The Highland Council setting out the intention to apply for planning permission to amend the turbine dimensions of the consented seven turbines of the Ben Sca Wind Farm and consented two turbines of the Ben Sca Extension Wind Farm, and seek permission for minor adjustments to the turbine locations and associated infrastructure.
It is proposed that the following amendments are made to the scheme and a new planning application is being prepared to be submitted to The Highland Council in early 2024:
- increase blade tip height for 7 turbines by up to 14.9m (from 135m to 149.9m);
- increase the rotor size of all 9 turbines by up to 23m (from 115m to 138m);
- increase spacing to improve yield and efficiency, minor adjustment to locations, maximum up to 132m movement from consented positions (Ben Sca Extension turbines remain in same locations as consented) with associated adjustments to the access tracks and crane hardstanding to accommodate the new locations;
- re-location of the onsite substation to the southern area of the site;
- additional of second temporary construction compound adjacent to Ben Aketil Wind Farm track;
- increase of generation capacity from consented 37.8MW to up to 40.8MW (increase in annual output from approximately 125,000MWh to 145,000MWh) to maximise grid connection; and
- increase operational life from 30 years to 40 years.
The figure below presents a comparison between the position of the consented infrastructure and the amendments proposed (click on image to expand).
The rationale for the amendment to the consented wind farm is to:
- maximise the renewable energy output from the site by increasing generation by approximately 20,000MWh to 145,000MWh which would provide enough carbon-free electricity to meet the needs of around 41,300 UK homes (an increase of approximately 5,700 UK homes on the consented scheme);
- maximise the secured grid capacity contributing further to Scottish Government net-zero emission targets;
- ensure that the candidate turbine can be sourced and installed; and
- to reduce distance to the connection point to the national electricity grid network, following change dictated by Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (connection point changed from Dunvegan Grid Supply Point (GSP) to Edinbane GSP).
As part of the preparation of a planning application, environmental assessment of the changes proposed at the Ben Sca and Extension Wind Farm site is currently in progress.
Public Exhibitions were held place in November 2023 (see 'Public Consultation' tab for more information), with submission of the planning application anticipated to take place in early 2024.
A fly-through video of a 3D model was presented at the November 2023 Public Exhibitions to provide an indication of how the Ben Sca project would appear should the proposed amendments receive planning consent. There are a number of other wind farm projects currently being proposed in the wider area, which are at various stages of the planning process (either awaiting determination or currently at the scoping stage, pre-submission). The fly-through video includes these proposed developments to provide context of the potential wider cumulative development. This fly-through video can be viewed below.