Planning for wind energy

Like many organisations with significant land-holdings, FCC Environment (formerly Waste Recycling Group), one of the UK’s largest waste management companies, has been exploring the potential of its sites to produce renewable energy. Since 2009, Baker Consultants has been providing FCC with the ecological consultancy needed to develop four potential wind farm sites located across the UK.

All the projects involved multiple wind turbines but, due to locations, each had differing issues and complexities. Baker Consultants was able to tailor the solutions to the individual needs of each project, offering a cost effect and pragmatic approach to data collection and survey.

Wind turbines

Wind turbines

Methodology

Key to our approach was carrying out early consultation with statutory bodies (Natural England), Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and non-statutory bodies (Wildlife Trusts, RSPB) to establish what the perceived issues could be and to agree as early as possible the level of survey required in each case. Some of the projects had limited potential for ecological impact and therefore required only a basic level of survey effort. Other projects presented more significant challenges due to their location. As well as increased survey effort, these projects required closer consultation with Natural England and the LPA.

Why Baker Consultants?

Baker Consultants saw each project through from the initial scoping stage, to completing all the ecological survey work before final submission to the planning authority and subsequent negotiations. The in-house team carried out vantage point surveys for birds, remote sensing surveys for bats, as well as great crested newt, breeding bird and reptile surveys.

Working within multi-disciplinary teams, Baker Consultants wrote the ecology and ornithology chapters of the Environmental Statements and provided advice to the design team of site layout and ecological mitigation.

Andrew Baker, director at Baker Consultants said: “Our approach with these projects, is to seek early agreement with the Local Planning Authority on the level of survey required and the necessary mitigation. Our aim is to ensure that if there are any objections on ecological grounds that there is sufficient data to ensure that robust arguments can be made at Public Inquiry.”

Chris Ratcliffe

“The range of WRG landholdings creates a challenging environment in terms of pre-planning activity. Baker Consultants has not only carried out all relevant surveys providing advice on timing, frequency and methodology, but has also delivered strategic consultancy on site appropriateness and entered into skilled negotiation with third parties on potentially contentious issues.”

Chris RatcliffeSenior planning and estates manager at Waste Recycling GroupFCC Environment (formerly Waste Recycling Group)