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Energy Projects

The team at OPEN has gained a considerable level of knowledge of the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) of energy related developments over the last 18 years. This has included gas fired power stations, transmission grid, on and offshore wind and hydro projects across the UK. This has involved the development of supporting GIS and visualisation skills to assist in the evolution of the project design and to enable the public and consultees to understand the effects of the development.

Many of the projects have been located in sensitive areas and this has meant that our landscape capacity and design led approach has been important to the positive outcome of the applications. We are acutely aware of the need for a robust and defensible LVIA and are confident to defend our work at the highest level. James has over ten years of experience as an Inquiry Witness, having presented evidence at over 80 Public Inquiries and Hearings, many for energy projects.

Early work in the energy sector focussed on a number of gas fired power stations in England, some of which were CHP/CCGT stations. This included the LVIAs for Spalding, Coryton, Rocksavage and Enderby gas fired power stations. Most recently personnel now at OPEN worked on the, now consented, expansion of the Spalding CCGT, which also included an assessment of the gas pipeline, a carbon capture installation and a grid connection routeing study.Gas pipeline routeing studies were also carried out as part of the LVIAs for the underground gas storage projects at Whitehill and Aldbrough, which OPEN staff also undertook. James provided expert witness services at the Planning Appeals for the Byley and Aldbrough gas storage projects, both of which are now consented.

Electrical grid routeing studies or LVIAs have also been carried out for Black Law Windfarm, Wether Hill Windfarm and Andershaw Windfarm on behalf of ScottshPower.

Through the experience of its landscape planning staff, OPEN inherits a significant pedigree in the preparation of LVIA for wind farms. The team has collectively carried out the LVIAs for over 90 wind farms since 1998, working with many of the major renewable energy companies across the UK, including ScottishPower Renewables; SSE/ Airtricity; NUON; E-ON and npower, among others.

Staff now at OPEN were involved in some of the first projects to be built – at Novar and Beinn Ghlas, some of the largest – Black Law and Kilgallioch. We also have experience of the assessments required for sites as small as a single turbine and for wind farm extensions such as Whitelee Extension (Phases 1, 2 and 3), East Kingswell (Whitelee Phase 3), Hagshaw Hill, Beinn an Tuirc and Hare Hill. OPEN has also undertaken a number of assessments for repowering projects. These include Coal Clough (Lancashire), Carland Cross (Cornwall) Repowering (both of which were consented following appeals) and Bu Wind farm (Isle of Stronsay, Orkney), which has been consented. We also have provided expert witness services in respect of the Llandinam Repowering and Extension in Mid Wales which was allowed by the Secretary of State. We have worked with MORL to prepare the Seascape Landscape and Visual Assessment (SLVIA) for its Moray Offshore Wind farm, with ScottishPower Renewables/Vattenfall on their East Anglia Offshore Wind 3 application and with ScottishPower Renewables on its Argyll Array Offshore Wind farm.

Many of the wind farm sites have been in sensitive locations such as Cruach Mhor in Argyll & Bute and Wether Hill in Dumfries and Galloway (both of which are SPR wind farms) as well as Dorenell near the Cairngorms National Park. Our landscape capacity and design led approach has been important to the positive outcome of the applications. Ultimately, our approach has been shaped by our experience at Inquiry. We are acutely aware of the need for a robust and defensible LVIA and are confident to defend our work at the highest level.

Finding new wind farm sites is becoming increasingly more complex for our clients due to a number of constraints. This has involved OPEN in early stage project work where we are able to advise clients of the likely feasibility of projects from a landscape and visual perspective. OPEN has carried out over 60 such studies for clients for sites across the UK but predominantly in Scotland.