A golden eagle photographed in Scotland. The fowl of prey is protected beneath the U.Okay.’s Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
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Plans for an onshore wind farm in Scotland have been revised after a lot of considerations, together with these associated to how the challenge would possibly have an effect on golden eagles.
If constructed, the Scoop Hill Group Wind Farm could have 60 generators as an alternative of the 75 that had been initially proposed.
The tip top of 4 generators within the growth, in Dumfries and Galloway, may even be lowered.
In a challenge replace final week, the agency behind the Scoop Hill Group Wind Farm mentioned revisions to the event had been made after “extensive and iterative discussions” with each the area people and consultees.
“During the consultation period, comments were raised by consultees and local residents, primarily relating to landscape and visual impacts, residential amenity, cultural heritage, dark skies and golden eagles,” Group Windpower mentioned.
The corporate mentioned it might now submit extra documentation to the Scottish authorities’s Vitality Consents Unit within the spring.
“We have taken on board comments raised by consultees and the local community and have made significant, positive changes to the proposed layout,” mentioned Rebecca Elliott, senior challenge supervisor for the Scoop Hill facility.
Elliott added that she regarded ahead to “discussing the updated proposal with the community in the coming months.”
Golden eagle considerations
The choice to cut back the variety of generators for Scoop Hill follows a interval of session for the challenge.
These responding to the session included RSPB Scotland, a charity centered on conservation. In a letter despatched to the Vitality Consents Unit in Jan. 2021, it voiced its opposition to the plans.
Amongst different issues, the letter expressed unease in regards to the facility’s potential impact on the golden eagle, a fowl of prey protected beneath the U.Okay.’s Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
“We have significant concerns about the impact that this proposal will have on golden eagle through collision risk, habitat loss, the potential for complete abandonment of a territory and impact on roost sites,” the group’s letter mentioned.
“Furthermore, we believe that the assessment of such impacts through both construction and operation is incomplete, and as such we object to this application,” it added. “We also have concerns regarding osprey and black grouse.”
The choice to cut back the scale of the Scoop Hill challenge represents the most recent instance of how considerations in regards to the interplay between wind farms and the pure world can create hurdles for firms seeking to construct out renewable vitality tasks.
In Dec. 2022, for instance, plans for a significant new wind farm in Australia got the thumbs up on the proviso its generators went offline for 5 months a 12 months to protect a parrot species.
Brussels-based trade physique WindEurope says the effects of projects can be prevented “by adequately planning, siting, and designing wind farms.”
“The impact of wind farms on birds and bats is extremely low compared to the impact of climate change and other human activity,” it provides.
In an announcement despatched to CNBC, a spokesperson for RSPB Scotland mentioned it hadn’t had “any direct communication with Community Windpower about golden eagles, only through submitting our response to the windfarm application in January 2021.”
“The Applicant did get in touch in November 2022 to provide an update that further work had been undertaken including proposed changes to the wind farm’s design and layout,” they added.
“However, further information on the details was not provided at that time, so we have not been able to fully consider the changes yet.”
“We understand that full details have not been published of the revised proposals so we do not yet know whether this revision might address our concerns,” the spokesperson went on to state. “We will consider the amended proposal carefully, particularly in relation to golden eagles.”
The spokesperson added that whereas RSPB Scotland supported renewable vitality era, wind farms “must be carefully sited and designed to avoid unacceptable impacts on species of highest conservation concern.”
“There is some research which suggests that golden eagles will avoid areas where wind farms have been constructed, so they are then displaced from the area,” they added.
The group was conscious of at the very least three collisions involving golden eagles and wind farms situated in Scotland however famous there was “no systematic recording of collisions, so this number could be higher for golden eagles and other species.”
“A key concern in relation to Scoop Hill is likely loss of the available land that golden eagles would have access to where they can forage and find food, which could result in the existing territory being abandoned,” the spokesperson mentioned.
Group Wind Energy didn’t reply to CNBC’s request for touch upon the RSPB’s remarks forward of this story’s publication.