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FINAL REPORT  
 
TAPPAGHAN 2 WIND FARM, CO FERMANAGH/TYRONE
   
REPORT ON ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF CABLE-LAYING

Report prepared for
 
AIRTRICITY     
by  
  Dr K Partridge BA PhD MIEEM,
Director and Principal Ecologist
Natural Environment Ltd
 
9 March 2009

1.0 Introduction 3
2.0 Methodology 4
 
3.0 Cable-laying Methods 5
  Tappaghan 2 5 
  Bessy Bell 2 5
 
4.0 Impact Assessment 6
  Tappaghan 2 6
  Bessy Bell 2 8
 
5.0 Conclusions 8
6.0 Acknowledgements 9
7.0 References 9
Appendix 1a: Photographs of Tappaghan 2 cable-laying using mole plough.  
Appendix 1b: Photographs of Tappaghan 2 cable route following cable laying.    
Appendix 1c: Photographs of Bessy Bell 2 cable route one year after cable laying. 
 
1.0 Introduction
 
       

1.1 Airtricity is currently building an extension to their wind farm at Tappaghan Mountain
near Lack, Co. Fermanagh (grid reference: H280685).
The existing wind farm comprises 13 x 1.5 MW turbines which were erected in 2001 and
brought into commission in 2002.
The wind farm extension comprises a further 6 turbines (1.5MW).
The site layout is shown in Figure 1 below. 
 
1.2 The original wind farm included a sub-station which was built to house electrical
switch gear and monitoring equipment. 
Power cables (33 kV) connect the original turbine network to the sub-station.
 
1.3 The Phase 2 layout includes the installation of a separate power cable circuit to
link the 6 new turbines to the sub-station.
The cable route mostly follows the access roads, except for Turbine 20, which is
linked directly to Turbine 16 and from
Turbine 20 the cable runs directly to the sub-station (Figure 2). 
 
1.4 Underground cable-laying at wind farm sites throughout Ireland has hitherto been
carried out using conventional open
trenching techniques. However, following experience by Airtricity’s parent company,
Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE)
in Scotland, it was decided to carry out the cable installation at Tappaghan 2 using
trenchless techniques. 
 
1.5 Airtricity commissioned Natural Environment Ltd to carry out an assessment of the
impacts of trenchless techniques
on blanket bog habitat and to compare this with the results of conventional trenching
which was used at Bessy Bell 2
Wind Farm (grid reference H 398816).
 
Figure 1: Tappaghan 2 Wind Farm – site layout  
Figure 1: Tappaghan 2 Wind Farm – site layout
 
2.0 Methodology
 
2.1 A survey of the cable route at Tappaghan 2 (T16 – T20 – Sub-station) was carried
out in January 2009 prior to cable-laying.
The route was walked and assessed by a botanist (Shaun Wolfe-Murphy BSc) and the
project ecologist ( Karl Partridge PhD)
and vegetation types along the route identified. Dominant plant species were noted and,
where possible, the vegetation type was
classified according to the National Vegetation Classification (NVC)
(Rodwell 1991-2000) and Phase1 Habitat type (JNCC 2007).
Photographs of representative vegetation types were also taken.
 
2.2 The installation of the Tappaghan cable was carried out on 27 and 28 January 2009
by a German company, Josef Schnell
GmbH (www.josefschnell.com ), using a mole plough. The cable-laying operation
was viewed and photographed on the
first of these days, during which the route from T16 to T20 was completed.
The remainder of the cable-laying along roads was completed on 29-30 January.
 
2.3 Three weeks later, on 16 February, the cable route was again surveyed and
photographed in order to assess the impact on vegetation of cable-laying.
The delay in revisiting the site was due to site closure as a result of heavy snow.
Photographs were taken that were representative of ground conditions along the route.
 
2.4 Finally, the underground cable route at Bessy Bell 2 was surveyed and
photographed on 16 February 2009 in order to provide comparative information
on a site where conventional open trenching techniques had been used.
In this case, the cable-laying was carried out in February 2008 and the vegetation
had had one season’s growth to assist recovery.
 
showing the cable route with the different vegetation stands numbered 
 
Figure 2: showing the cable route with the different vegetation stands numbered.
 
3.0 Cable-laying Methods
 
 Tappaghan 2 Wind Farm

3.1 The installation of the 33kV cable at Tappaghan 2 was carried out by means of
a mole plough, a Föckersperger FSP-18.
The cable-laying plough makes a narrow slit in the ground (depth: up to 2 m) in
a single operation. The cables are laid via a chute and the slit closes up immediately
after the plough has passed. The cable plough has its front wheels skid-mounted
and is towed behind an 18.5 tonne tracked winch using a 55 mm winch cable
that can extend for a distance of 125 m.

3
Designed cable trailers (shown right) are pulled behind the mole plough by a tracked bulldozer.
Where blanket bog habitats occur, the mole plough is capable of installing
700-1000 m of cable per day. 
Reinstatement of any subs pressure excavator (also known as a ‘bogmaster’ -
see photos in Appendix 1).
This includes replacement of hummocks of peat
and vegetation removed for cable-laying and any deep ruts made on soft ground
by the vehicle convoy.
During the cable-laying operation, sediment mats are placed i
 The cable plough has been successful
km of 33 kV cable was laid within a period of 50 days. Mole plough technology has
also been used at the Braes of Doune wind farm (Stirlingshire; 33 turbines) and
at the Glens of Foudland wind farm (Aberdeenshire; 20 turbines).

3 Underground cable-laying
(Lagan Construction, Dec 2007).  Cables were laid in a trench 1.2m
corridor was 10-15m wide. Following cable-laying within a layer of sand, the trench
was back-filled and excess subsoil removed from the area. Finally, the topsoil
or layer of peat was used to cover the trench and adjacent area. 
Photographs in Appendix 1c show the recovering cable

underground cable recovery
cable laying
   

Bessy Bell 2 Wind Farm site layout and cable routes
 
Figure 3: Bessy Bell 2 Wind Farm site layout and cable routes.
 
4.0 Impact Assessment – cable laying
 
 Tappaghan 2 Wind Farm using Mole Plough
 
4.1 The aerial photograph (Figure 1) provides an indication of the habitats crossed
by the cable route, i.e., mainly blanket bog habitats comprising a mosaic of cut-over
bog, uncut Heather-dominated areas, acid grassland and rush pasture.
The route crosses three small streams. 
 
4.2 The route was sub-divided into 12 sections of similar habitat type and these were classified both as NVC community
types and their equivalent Phase 1 classification (Table 1). A more detailed description
of vegetation along the route is available in the vegetation report.  
 
4.3 Many of the upland plant communities in this part of Northern Ireland do not
conform to the standard types in the NVC classification and the situation is complicated
by the widespread occurrence of mosaics and transitions. 
 
4.4 Photographs 11-24 in Appendix 1b provide a representative selection of shots
taken along the cable route after the cable was laid, starting at the sub-station
and finishing at T16. 
 
4.5 The photographs show that cable-laying has resulted in varying degrees of
damage to vegetation, peat and peaty soils.
This seems to vary according to the wetness of the ground, the thickness and type
of vegetation and the slope inclination. 
 
 
Table 1:
Habitats occurring along the cable route (T16 to T20 to sub-station) at Tappaghan 2 wind farm, Co Fermanagh,
14 January 2009. Figure 1 (above) shows numbered sections.

 


 
Section

 
Phase 1 Habitat
 

 
NVC Communities

 

Code

Name

Code

Name

1

B5

Marshy grassland

M6

Carex echinata-Sphagnum fallax mires, Juncus effusus sub-community

2

E1.7

Wet modified bog

M6

Carex echinata-Sphagnum fallax mires

 

E2.1

Flush & spring-acid/neutral

M25b

Molinea caerulea-Potentilla erecta mires, Anthoxanthum odoratum sub-community

3

B1.1

Acid grassland

U6

Juncus squarrosus-Festuca ovina grassland, Agrostis capillaris-Luzula multiflora sub-community

 

E1.7

Wet modified bog

M25b

Molinea caerulea-Potentilla erecta mires, Anthoxanthum odoratum sub-community

 

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M19

Calluna vulgaris-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire

4

B5

Marshy grassland

M23

Juncus effuses/acutiflorus-Galium palustre rush pasture, Juncus effusus sub-community

5

B1.1

Acid grassland

U6

Juncus squarrosus-Festuca ovina grassland, Agrostis capillaris-Luzula multiflora sub-community

 

E1.7

Wet modified bog

M25b

Molinea caerulea-Potentilla erecta mires, Anthoxanthum odoratum sub-community

 

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M19

Calluna vulgaris-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire

6

D1.1

Dry dwarf shrub heath - acid

H12

Calluna vulgaris-Vaccinium myrtillus heath

 

E1.6.1

 

M15

Scirpus cespitosus-Erica tetralix wet heath

 

E1.7

Wet modified bog

M25b

Molinea caerulea-Potentilla erecta mires, Anthoxanthum odoratum sub-community

 

E1.7

Wet modified bog

M20

Eriophorus vaginatum blanket and raised mire

 

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M19

Calluna vulgaris-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire, Erica tetralix sub-community

7

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M19

Calluna vulgaris-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire

8

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M17

Trichophorum cespitosum-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire

 

D6

Wet heath/acid grassland

M16

Erica tetralix-Sphagnum compactum wet heath

9

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M17

Trichophorum cespitosum-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire

10

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M17

Trichophorum cespitosum-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire, (probably) the Juncus squarrosus-Rhytidiadelphus loreus sub community

11

B1.1/B1.2

Acid grassland, unimproved/semi-improved

U1/U4

Festuca ovina/Agrostis capillaris – F ovina/A capillaris/Galium saxatile grassland

 

E1.7/B5

Wet modified bog/ marshy grassland

M25/M23

Molinea caerulea-Potentilla erecta mire/Juncus effuses/acutiflorus-Galium palustre rush pasture

12

E1.6.1

Blanket bog

M17

Trichophorum cespitosum-Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire

 

D5

Dry heath/acid grassland

H9

Calluna vulgaris-Deschampsia flexuosa heath

 
4.6 Planning conditions require that construction is carried out during the winter months, to avoid the bird breeding
season.
The ground is at its wettest in winter and therefore damage is unavoidable where it is tracked by heavy vehicles,
even if these are designed to minimise ground pressure. 
 
4.7 On the softest ground, wheel ruts or Caterpillar tracks are evident – (Photos 11, 13, 14, 18 and 21).
In other places, soils have been disturbed, bare peat exposed and vegetation temporarily destroyed
(Photos 11, 14, 16 and 18). Where acid grassland/rush pasture occurs mid-way between T20 and T16 rushes,
vegetation has been compressed and peat exposed, sometimes over a
wide area (≤ 20 m) on side-slopes. The ground here appeared to be particularly wet and very soft (see Photo 7). 
 
4.8 On sections of the cable route where the ground was relatively dry, and especially on Heather, the
cable-laying has resulted in very little damage. For example, see Photo 12 (above sub-station), Photo 15
(south of T20), Photos 17 & 19 (north of T20) and Photos 23 and 24, just south of T16).
 
4.9 In general, the width of the damaged ground is 6-10 metres. In rare instances, this extends to 20 m wide. 
 
 
 Bessy Bell 2 Wind Farm
 
4.10 Much of the cable route at Bessy Bell that was not laid along access roads crossed improved or semi-improved grassland
(Appendix 1c, Photo 4). Less than 600 m crosses habitat occupied by blanket bog or rush pasture. 
 
4.11 Photos 1-6 (Appendix 1c) illustrate the current condition of ground where cabling was carried out using
conventional open trench methods. The work was carried out one year ago, in February 2008, thus the vegetation
has had one growing season to recover.  
 
4.12 The short stretch of cable route linking the met mast to T1 as yet shows little sign of recovery, (Photo 1).
Bare peat soils still occupy the 6-12 m wide route with stones exposed during trench excavation.
 
4.13 About 250 m of the cable route between T2 and T6 crosses rush pasture which has a high proportion of moss cover and a blanket bog element. Photos 2 and 3 provide some evidence of recovery with a re-growth of Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) and a re-establishment of moss cover. However, as expected after only one year post-installation there is still a
considerable proportion of bare ground. Also, glacial subsoil has been left on the surface in places.
The ground here was much drier than it was on the
Tappaghan 2 route. 
 
4.14 The third section of cable route examined was where the route approaches the access track between T4 and T3.
A disturbed zone 25 m in width is evident on the north side of the road in what was formerly rush pasture (Photo 6).
Re-establishment of vegetation is very patchy and there is no sign yet of a re-growth
of rushes.
 
4.15 To summarise, less than half of the cross-country cable route at Bessy Bell 2 was through semi-natural habitat
and most of this was through rush pasture rather than blanket bog. The cabling has not
had a significant impact on blanket bog, notwithstanding the use of open trench methods. Disturbance of vegetation and soils along roads can extend to 16 m in places (Photo 5),
therefore road construction can also lead to adverse effects on vegetation over and
above what might be expected.
 
 
5.0 Conclusions
 
5.1 The trenchless technology employed by using a mole plough is an effective and efficient method for installing
underground cables.
Its use avoids the need to open a trench and avoids the risk of disturbing sub-soils
and bringing them to the surface. It also reduces the risk of contamination of watercourses. 
 
5.2 SSE’s experience in Scotland shows that this trenchless technology can be used to install cables on sensitive
upland sites where blanket bog habitats are dominant, with low residual impacts.
 
5.3 As part of a study into the potential effects of cable-laying for a project in Orkney,
an ecological assessment of the impact of trenchless cable installation was
carried out at Hadyard Hill Wind Farm in Ayrshire (Elliot 2005). 
 
 
5.4 This concluded that the effects of trenchless techniques on vegetation appeared
to be temporary, even in rushy or marshy ground, with recovery taking place
within three months. The deepest ground compaction was caused by the follow-up excavator tracks and did not exceed 5 cm on any type of ground.
 
5.5 Clearly, the impacts at Tappaghan 2 are in places more severe and, since the plant used is similar, the difference is probably due to the wetness and softness of the ground. This, in turn, is a function of the timing of the works: the
cable-laying at Hadyard Hill was carried out during the summer (April-August) as opposed to January at Tappaghan.
However, as noted above, where the ground was relatively dry, and especially on Heather, the cable-laying has resulted in very little damage to vegetation and peat soils.
 
5.6 Since the Tappaghan cable-laying has only just been completed, a comparison
with Bessy Bell 2 is premature.
If a like-for-like comparison is to be made, the Tappaghan route should be
re-assessed after one year
(i.e. February 2010) and vegetation recovery compared with the results just
obtained for Bessy Bell 2. 
 
5.7 Irrespective of the outcome of the comparison, it is clear that the full benefit of
using trenchless technology and low ground pressure vehicles will not be seen unless
the work is carried out at a time of year when ground conditions are
drier, ideally in late summer. It would also be useful to compare the effects of
cable-laying in winter, reported herein, with cable-laying in Ireland in
summer, under drier ground conditions.
 
5.8 Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) do not impose a blanket ban on wind farm construction during the summer months, leaving it up to wind farm developers
and their ecological advisors to ensure that solutions are found to protect breeding
birds (Brendan Turvey, SNH Policy and Advice Manager – Renewables, personal communication). 
SNH are currently drawing up a good practise guide including seasonal
considerations in wind farm construction (SNH 2009). 
 
 
6.0 Acknowledgements
 
I would like to thank: Martin Sweeney (Airtricity) for suggesting this study and for his comments on a draft; Olivia Doyle
(Airtricity; Tappaghan 2 Project Manager) and Ghislain Demeuldre (Airtricity) for support during the study and for their
comments on the draft; Pat Tierney, Michael Gordon and Aidan Cox (Lagan Construction) for practical assistance;
Shaun Wolfe Murphy for carrying out the vegetation survey at Tappaghan; Theo Saathoff (Josef Schnell GmbH) for
providing information on mole ploughing; and Brendan Turvey (SNH) for discussions on seasonal constraints in wind
farm construction. 
  
7.0 References
 
Elliott M. 2005. Electrical Connection to European Marine Energy Tidal Stream Facility, Newbigging, Eday,
Orkney. Ecological Report, 29th November 2005.
Scottish and Southern Energy. 
 
JNCC 2007. Handbook for Phase 1 Habitat Survey. (Originally published 1990 by NCC). Revised reprint. JNCC, Peterborough. 
 
Rodwell J.S (ed) 1991-2000. British Plant Communities. 5 Volumes. Cambridge Unviersity Press, Cambridge.
 
Scottish Natural Heritage. 2009. Good Practice During Windfarm Construction - seasonal considerations. Draft Report. SNH, Redgorton, Perth

 

APPENDIX 1a:
 
PHOTOGRAPHS OF TAPPAGHAN 2 CABLE-LAYING USING MOLE PLOUGH

Mole plough and cable trailers
Close up shot of mole plough
Photo 1: Mole plough and cable trailers.
Photo 3: Close up shot of mole plough
Mole plough pulled by crawler winch (in distance) approaching Turbine 20
Mole plough in action
Photo 5: Mole plough pulled by crawler winch
(in distance) approaching Turbine 20
Photo 2: Mole plough in action
tracks left by mole plough
damage softer ground
Photo 4: Crawler winch pulling mole plough Photo 6: Tracks left by mole plough convoy.
APPENDIX 1a continued
removal of sediment
Photo 7: Vegetation damage on softer ground 
 
Photo 8: Crawler winch bogged down on soft ground and steep slope (approaching T20
crawler bogged down
view sub station
Photo 9: Immediate re-instatement of damaged
peat following passage of mole plough convoy
 
 
 
Photo 10: Removal of sediment mat from stream
 

APPENDIX 1b
PHOTOGRAPHS OF TAPPAGHAN 2 CABLE ROUTE FOLLOWING CABLE LAYING

sub station
 Photo 13: Wheel ruts above sub-station Photo 11: View back towards sub-station.
 
less damaged heather
low impact section
Photo 15: Less damaged Heather/Cotton-grass south of Turbine 20 Photo 12: Low impact section above sub station
wheel ruts
churned ground
   Photo 14: Wheel ruts on wet ground above sub station Photo 16: Churned wetter ground within
Heather-dominated vegetation.
APPENDIX 1b continued
cotton grass
wet heather
Photo 17: Cotton-grass blanket bog north of Turbine 20 Photo 19: Wet Heather-dominated habitat in valley bottom N of T20, showing slight damage.
flattened pasture
churned peat
Photo 21: Flattened and churned rush pasture/acid grassland on very wet ground mid way between T20 and T16. Photo 18: Churned peat on steep slope north of Turbine 20 (cf Photo 8)
nearby stream
wider impact
Photo 20: Nearby stream following cable-laying. Photo 22: Similar vegetation nearby illustrating wider impact on side slope.
 
APPENDIX 1b continued
slight damage
no soil damage
Photo 23: Final section of cable route just S of T16 where Cotton-grass habitat has suffered slight damage. Photo 24: Heather-dominated habitat just S of T16 showing vegetation compression but no soil damage.
APPENDIX 1c
 
PHOTOGRAPHS OF BESSY BELL 2 CABLE ROUTE ONE YEAR AFTER CABLE LAYING
heather and cotton grass
recovering vegetation
Photo 1: Heather & Cotton-grass dominated habitat on cable route between met mast and T1,
with much bare peat exposed.
Photo 3: Close up of habitat shown in Photo 2 with recovering vegetation to left
and undamaged vegetation to right.
disturbed ground
rush pasture
 
Photo 5: Disturbed ground (16m wide) along SW side of access road to T6.  
Photo 2: Rush pasture on section of cable route between T2 and T6 (10m wide)
showing some recovery of vegetation cover.
improved sheep pasture
disturbed ground
Photo 4: Section of cable route through improved sheep pasture NE of T2.
Much of the Bessy Bell cable route runs through improved grassland.
 
Photo 6: Disturbed ground, incorporating cable route, alongside road from T4 to T3.
Much bare soil still evident; original habitat (rush pasture) to right.


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Cable Plough Appraisal – Hadyard Hill Windfarm, Girvan.

Josef Schnell Cable Plough Contractors

The cable plough was used extensively at Hadyard Hill Windfarm to install the
33kV cables on site.
Approximately 90% of the cable contract was installed using the cable plough.
This equates to 50km of 3 x 33Kv cables, earth wire and fibre optic cable.

The plough team was on site for around 50 days therefore the average quantity
of cable circuit installed is
around 1000m / day. This installation rate is quite remarkable.

The terrain consisted of arable, grazing, silage and forestry with a number
of burn and access track crossings.

The plough is environmentally friendly and has been used on SSSI and Natural
Heritage Sites with favourable results.

Other advantages with using the plough are –

Economical – Plough rates are very competitive against conventional open cut methods.

Timescale – 8 to 10 times quicker than open cut methods.

Fencing – No requirement to fence off fields in advance of works.

No excavation of cable track.

No stripping of top soil.

Very little reinstatement of track or reseeding costs.

I would endorse the use of cable plough for future cable works as the cost savings and quick completion
of the project were immense.

Bill Clark

00000000000000000

Hadyard Hill Windfarm

Breakdown of work

Programme 1
Wed 20/4/05 to 30/4/05                      (10 days)         11.6km of track

34.8km of 33kV cables
11.0km of fibre optic
11.0km of earthwire
11.0km of lino tape
11.0km of marker tape

Programme 2
Wed 9/5/05 to 20/5/05                        (12 days)         11.4km of track

34.2km of 33kV cables
11.2km of fibre optic
10.0km of earthwire
11.2km of lino tape
11.2km of marker tape

Programme 3
Wed 4/7/05 to 7/7/05                          (4 days)           4.4km of track

13.2km of 33kV cables
3.4km of fibre optic
3.4km of earthwire
3.4km of lino tape
3.4km of marker tape

Programme 4
Wed 11/7/05 to 21/7/05                      (11 days)         11.8km of track

35.4km of 33kV cables
9.3km of fibre optic
9.3km of earthwire
9.3km of lino tape
9.3km of marker tape

Programme 5
Wed 26/7/05 to 29/7/05                      (4 days)           3.8km of track

11.4km of 33kV cables
3.9km of fibre optic
3.5km of earthwire
3.9km of lino tape
3.9km of marker tape

Programme 6
Wed 15/8/05 to 24/8/05                      (8 days)           6.9km of track

20.7km of 33kV cables
6.0km of fibre optic
5.0km of earthwire
6.0km of lino tape
6.0km of marker tape

Total of 50km cable track with 150km of cable in 50 days.

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT LIMITED, 59 Killyleagh Street, Crossgar, Co Down, Northern Ireland, 
BT30 9DQ. Tel: 028-44-830537; Email: ecology@naturalenvironment.co.uk

Contact
Tel. : 0049 72 23 / 51 10 - 21
Fax : 0049 72 23 / 51 10 - 44
Mobil: 0049-173 / 32 69 090

TheoSaathoff@josefschnell.de
UK and Germany

Josef Schnell GmbH is a business with over 50 years experience in trenchless cable and pipeline laying services. Josef Schnell senior worked for
over 30 years to perfect the art of cable and pipeline laying by means of trench-less technology. The object being to reduce to an absolute minimum,
the effects on the environment caused by the scarring of the route, traditional with open cut methods.

SYSTEM
When installing utilities be they gas `water or electricity we work to a Written Health and Safety policy also a comprehensive Environmental Policy Statement.
We offer a fast, versatile, economical and environmentally friendly way to achieve this in any terrain or soil condition from running sand to friable rock .
Up to 20 telecom or telemetry cables or ducts, 2 lightning protectors and 2 warning tapes can be laid simultaneously.
The winch truck can be positioned up to 125 metres ahead of the plough and even offset to the side of the route.
CLIENTS:-
SCOTTISH AND SOUTHERN ENERGY PLC. EASTERN ELECTRICITY, SCOTTISH POWER, BRITISH AIRPORT AUTHORITY,
BRITISH TELECOM TRIALS.