Plans to build a massive windfarm in Shetland are unlikely to be opposed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), it emerged this week.
Wildlife lobby group Proact is organising a petition calling on the RSPB to step up its opposition to wind farm developments in the UK. So far the petition has been signed by over 3,000 people.
However, RSPB Scotland has responded by saying that it considers applications to develop wind farms on a case-by-case basis.
RSPB Shetland officer Pete Ellis said that plans by Viking Energy to build a 600-megawatt-windfarm in Shetland were causing less concern to the RSPB than plans by engineering giant Amec to build a windfarm in Lewis.
In the case of Lewis, the plan is to build a 700-megawatt farm in a Special Protection Area. In the case of Shetland, the proposed site in the Lang Kames, is undesignated.
Mr Ellis said: “Generally the RSPB is in favour of renewable energy. We aren’t in favour of wind farms in the wrong place.
“We look at every application and if the applications aren’t for suitable places we oppose them.
“We have been working with Viking Energy right from the start and they have been very positive about our suggestions.”
Although the proposed site in Shetland attracts large numbers of red-throated divers the RSPB believes that by keeping turbines away from certain areas any problems will be averted.
“We think it can be done,” Mr Ellis said. “We are not looking to object to the scheme in principal but we might have to put in a conditional objection so that everything is put on a legal basis.”
Viking Energy co-ordinator Aaron Priest said that the Lang Kames site had been specifically chosen, following consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB, because it had no environmental or scientific designations.
Work on a bird study is expected to be completed in the next few weeks and a planning application should be submitted by the end of the year.
Because the windfarm will be larger than 50 megawatts, the final decision will be made by Scottish ministers rather than the SIC’s planning board.
By Mark Latham
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