A POWER company has dropped plans for a wind farm because of fears that geese could be killed by the turbines.
Perth-based Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) wanted to build the 56-turbine, 116 megawatt development at Broubster Leans in Caithness, a site of European nature conservation importance.
However, a two-year bird study showed that the wind-farm site would be under the flight route of migrating Greenland white-fronted geese and greylag geese which roost in the area. SSE decided that a wind farm would pose a significant risk of collision for the birds and dropped the proposals.
Dr Brian Smith, SSE’s head of projects, said: "The development of more wind farms in Scotland is vital if we are to maintain secure supplies of power and tackle the huge risks to our country posed by climate change. But each potential site must be considered on its merits and be the subject of detailed scrutiny.
"Our work has shown that a wind farm at Broubster would not be sufficiently compatible with other environmental concerns, and so we have decided not to progress this further."
Anne McCall, head of planning and development for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "The development of sensibly located renewable energy developments is one important means of tackling climate change.
"That SSE has resolved not to develop on this environmentally sensitive site is enormously welcome and is an approach we commend to all those involved with the renewables industry."
About 14,000 Greenland white-fronted geese visit the UK each year with about 25 pairs stopping in Caithness.
A Scottish Natural Heritage report this week showed that geese are returning to winter in Scotland in some of the highest numbers recorded since their populations crashed in the early 20th century.
The report found that numbers of pink-footed geese, Greenland white-fronted geese, greylag geese and two types of barnacle goose have recovered significantly in recent decades.
Numbers of Greenland white-fronted geese in Scotland reached a peak of 21,164 in 1998-9 and, after a period of stability, is now showing signs of a decline to 17,500.
The population of Icelandic greylag geese peaked at 115,000 in 1990, followed by a decline to about 73,000 in 2002.
The report said goose populations remain extremely vulnerable to changing circumstances in their Arctic breeding grounds and their migration stopovers.