Impact on Wildlife and UK
The long-running battle between country folk and government over windfarms took a new twist today as a war broke out between the Scottish Executive and a conservation body which has called for more “green” electricity generation.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and its Scottish branch have in the past angered many rural communities for being outspoken supporters of wind farms - which mainly serve towns and cities but are always located in the countryside.
But the Scottish RSPB today issued an outspoken protest about re-designed plans to build the UK’s largest windfarm on the Isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles, which it says is “one of Scotland’s most sensitive and important sites for wildlife.”
The big wind farm debate rumbled on this week as the RSPB again signalled its opposition to the nine-turbine plan for West Hinkley.
The society stood against Your Energy’s proposals when they were first submitted in 2004.
Giant turbines, RSPB representatives say, would have a detrimental effect on the birds living around the site.
Scottish Natural Heritage yesterday confirmed its objection to a huge wind farm planned for Lewis.
SNH board members reiterated their previous view that land covered by special protection area status might be harmed by the development. They also said there was insufficient information to determine the potential impact on birds.
Last week, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) voted 18-8 in favour of the plan by Lewis Wind Power, subject to 50 conditions, including the removal of five of the proposed 181 turbines. Because of the scale of the 651-megawatt project, a final decision rests with the Scottish Executive.
Meanwhile, SNH has withdrawn its objection to a proposed wind farm at Edinbane on Skye. It follows a public consultation by Highland Council on the latest submission from the developer AMEC, which included an appraisal of the likely effect on golden eagles.
The RSPB Scotland study looked at 12 operating upland wind farms in the UK and found that numbers of several birds of high conservation concern are reduced close to the turbines.
Affected birds include the hen harrier and golden plover, which are protected under European law, and the curlew, which is a high-priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Campaigners against the "further industrialisation" of the Scottish landscape by wind turbines have reacted sceptically to claims of an about turn on the issue by Alex Salmond. ..."If things are going to change, we would also like to see the guideline that suggests wind turbines should be at least 2km from homes being made mandatory. At the moment that guideline is routinely trampled over."
Scientists have found that birds, including buzzards, golden plovers, curlews and red grouse, are abandoning countryside around wind farms because the turbines act as giant scarecrows, frightening them away.
The impact is small now because there are few wind farms but researchers warn that, with hundreds more planned, plus an increase in the size of turbines, the effect could become much worse.
"We are seriously concerned about this proposal. The RSPB supports the development of renewable energy as necessary to combat climate change which threatens so much of our wildlife. But windfarms must be of the right scale and in the right places, not where they damage the very natural environment they are supposed to be protecting."
A HOTEL owner is being driven batty by planning delays for a wind turbine that could bring green power to his business.
Stuart McGlynn, who owns the Norwood Hotel, Whalley Road, Accrington, hopes to place a small turbine on the side of his detached house, behind the hotel.
But the possibility that a bat population may be roosting nearby has put a temporary halt to the plans until a wildlife survey is carried out.
TV botanist David Bellamy has joined the campaign against a wind-farm project earmarked for the Lothians, labelling the plans "international vandalism".
Plans for Europe's largest wind farm could still be approved if ministers and environmental agencies can be persuaded to change their interpretation of rules protecting wildlife, councillors in the Western Isles heard yesterday.
Ministers indicated last month that they are "minded to refuse" Lewis Wind Power's (LWP) plans for a 181-turbine development on the environmentally sensitive Lewis peatlands, although a final decision has yet to be made.
Developers have until 15 February to respond.
Following a special meeting of Western Isles Council yesterday, a spokesman for the authority said:
"There is determination to do what we can to bring to the Scottish ministers' attention the opportunity that is in danger of being passed up here." ...the council is challenging the government's conclusions and insists the interpretation of environmental rules is too strict. It
Martin Bellis dries himself off with his towel and gives a wry smile when asked if he is not just another Nimby objector looking after his own patch of beach against the potential encroachment of a wind farm near Faversham, Kent. “No, I’m really not. I am a supporter of clean energy and really care for the environment,” he said.
“I just happen to think wind is a bit of a white elephant because it’s so inefficient and I cannot understand why anyone would choose one of the best bird sanctuaries in Europe as a site.”
There is also a growing perception by the RSPB, which - in general - backs renewal energy sources such as wind, wave and solar power, that large-scale wind farms in some areas may pose great danger to bird populations.
Controversial plans to erect giant wind turbines in West Somerset have suffered a dramatic setback after the influential Royal Society for the protection of birds has come out against the scheme at Hinkley Point.
It’s the first time the influential organisation has objected to a proposed wind farm in the South West.
Richard Archer, conservation officer for the RSPB in Somerset, told the County Gazette: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, as we are generally in support of schemes to reduce our carbon footprint and combat global warming.”
The RSPB is objecting to a controversial plan to build the West’s biggest wind farm next to the Bristol Channel, we can reveal.
Experts from the bird charity are unhappy with the proposal for nine 110m (361ft) turbines at West Hinkley, beside Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
They say more work should be done on the wind farm’s possible impact on nearby birds in the Severn estuary, especially shelduck, ringed plover and curlews.
...last night RSPB Scotland warned that the wildlife-rich coast of Aberdeenshire could be seriously damaged and internationally vital bird populations decimated as a result of the two large-scale developments
Leading ornithologists claimed yesterday that Highland planners had based their approval for a number of windfarms on inadequate environmental data.
The warning came from RSPB Scotland which is gravely concerned that, in many cases, insufficient time is allowed to gauge flight paths and breeding patterns of birds as part of essential environmental impact assessments (EIAs).
The landmark planning decision on the project - which had been due to dominate the skyline and span seven townlands at Knockacummer, Co Cork - is set to lead to a flood of similar objections anywhere wind farms are planned in the species' habitat.
The presence of the bird was the sole reason for refusal by the planning authority, signalling a tough new approach to wind farm developments impacting upon protected bird species.
Research by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) shows the distribution of birds in areas picked for further offshore wind farm development.
Concern about dangers to Britain's biggest birds of prey from windfarms came as 15 White-tailed Eagle chicks were flown to Scotland for a new comeback scheme. The youngsters, when able to fly, will be released in about two months in the first phase of a new project to restore this species to eastern Scotland where it was wiped out by human persecution almost 200 years ago. Now they [up to 80 more to be released over the next four years] and the new population in the Hebridean islands following a similar, post-1970s re-introduction project will face a new hazard - if they happen to move into areas well stocked with wind turbines.
Councillors have agreed to allow a Caithness renewable energy company to continue gathering wind data – but insisted on a special condition to protect birdlife. ...The condition aimed at safeguarding birdlife was suggested by Councillor David Bremner, Landward Caithness, who found support when he suggested that inspection of the bird deflectors on the mast should take place on a weekly basis as opposed to the three-month period suggested by the planning service.
Mr Bremner said: "I am no expert but there is quite a lot of activity in that area, particularly when the whooper swans are migrating. I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask for a more rigorous condition."