East Lothian Council’s Planning Committee met remotely on Tuesday 5 December and considered one application for planning permission in principle for electricity transmission infrastructure between Skateraw and Branxton.

Berwick Bank Windfarm Ltd and SSE Renewables submitted the application for the construction and operation of onshore electricity transmission infrastructure in the form of either a substation or converter station, and for associated development including underground electricity cables and landfall at Skateraw.  The proposal forms the onshore transmission infrastructure for the offshore Berwick Bank Wind Farm, off St Abb’s Head, which, if granted planning consent, would be one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world.

A Pre Application Notice had been submitted and community consultation had taken place, involving an online consultation event which ran from 7 - 18 March 2022, and included live chat sessions with the project team.

The application site is 598 hectares, from the Innerwick junction of the A1 in the west to the Bilsdean/Dunglass junction of the A1 in the east, and from the coast to the north of Skateraw in the north to near Branxton in the south.

In order to minimise disruption when installing cables, trenchless technology would be used to pass under the beach at landfall, the East Coast Main Line and the A1.

There were 54 written representations received to the application, of which 50 objected, three made comment on it and one was in support.

The main grounds of objection included concerns around the height and scale of the proposed development, which it was felt would be an eyesore and have a severe impact and be harmful to the rural character of the area; construction traffic would be harmful to the amenity of the area and a danger to other road users, pedestrians, dog walkers, cyclists and horses; and cumulative proposals in the area were a worry and would harmfully impact on this rural area.

Following a debate, committee members voted nine to one in agreement with the planning officer recommendation to grant planning permission in principle. There were two minor amendments to conditions involving driver training to aid road safety for horse riders and cyclists and for a tree planning management plan to cover 10 years instead of five.

The relevant application number is 23/00162/PPM.

Published: Wednesday, 6th December 2023