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Windfarm firm publishes bird survey

THE COMMUNITY-owned company behind the massive wind farm proposal in Shetland published their first study into the environmental impact of the project yesterday (Tuesday).

Viking Energy Ltd are planning to erect a 600MW wind farm in conjunction with Scottish and Southern Energy plc, at a cost of up to 1 billion.

Before the developers can apply for planning permission to install wind turbines the length of the Lang Kames in Shetland's central mainland, they must complete an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Yesterday they published survey work carried out in 2005 by environmental consultants Natural Research (Projects) Ltd into the presence of red throated divers and merlins, two rare species of bird which inhabit the area.

The survey showed that the Viking site includes six pairs of merlin who fledged 18 young last year. This represents about 30 per cent and 0.5 per cent of the Shetland and UK populations respectively.

Even more significantly, 40 pairs of red throated divers were found of which 37 bred last year. This makes up about nine per cent of the Shetland population and five per cent of the UK population. Therefore, the site has very high conservation importance for this species.

The surveyors also examined the flight movements of the birds in the area.

Yesterday David Thomson, of Viking Energy, said this work... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Viking Energy Ltd are planning to erect a 600MW wind farm in conjunction with Scottish and Southern Energy plc, at a cost of up to £1 billion.

Before the developers can apply for planning permission to install wind turbines the length of the Lang Kames in Shetland's central mainland, they must complete an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Yesterday they published survey work carried out in 2005 by environmental consultants Natural Research (Projects) Ltd into the presence of red throated divers and merlins, two rare species of bird which inhabit the area.

The survey showed that the Viking site includes six pairs of merlin who fledged 18 young last year. This represents about 30 per cent and 0.5 per cent of the Shetland and UK populations respectively.

Even more significantly, 40 pairs of red throated divers were found of which 37 bred last year. This makes up about nine per cent of the Shetland population and five per cent of the UK population. Therefore, the site has very high conservation importance for this species.

The surveyors also examined the flight movements of the birds in the area.

Yesterday David Thomson, of Viking Energy, said this work was a preliminary study which would be completed once further work has been carried out this year.

Viking have stressed that they wish to "take the public with them" developing the wind farm, and want to maintain a high level of consultation and openness throughout the process which is likely to take several more years, partly because it requires a sub sea connector to be laid to the Scottish mainland.

"The kind of information this is giving us is an influential layer when it comes to designing what the wind farm will look like," Mr Thomson said.
"We have been saying for a long time that if we are going to assess the impact of the wind farm on Shetland we have to know what's there first, and that's really what this report does."

Later the developers will carry out "collision modelling" to see what the potential risk the turbines will pose to wildlife.

Next month consultancy firm ASH Design and Assessment will be examining the visual impact of the wind farm, to look at alternative ways it could be sited in the landscape.

Shetland Islands Council's economic spokesman Drew Ratter said: "We have long said this project would be taken forward with regard to the environmental concerns associated with a project of this size.

"We also said we would take the public of Shetland with us through that process. It is a long process but we are now able to start sharing some of the information that will be needed when we begin any form of full public consultation."

Source: http://www.shetland-news.co...

FEB 22 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1408-windfarm-firm-publishes-bird-survey
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