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Bird charity blow to wind farm plan

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.

It is thought to be the first time the RSPB has objected to a turbine scheme in the South West, and the charity says it was not a decision taken lightly.

But it felt it was left with no choice after concerns at some of the preparation work carried out by renewable power firm Your Energy, which wants to build the turbines.

The firm’s own survey work assumes that birds within 800m of the turbines will be permanently displaced. They have estimated this would amount to up to three per cent of the estuary’s spring passage ringed plover, 1.4 per cent of shelduck, and 0.6 per cent of curlews.

Richard Archer, RSPB conservation officer for Somerset, said there is not a definite threat to birds, but more survey work is needed.

He said it is also possible the turbines should be relocated further away from the coastline and that they are very reluctant to take this line because they do support renewable energy projects.

Local campaigners from the West Hinkley Action Group, which has consistently opposed the wind farm idea since it was first suggested in 2004, backed the RSPB’s stance. Meanwhile, Your Energy was unaware yesterday that the RSPB had objected to the wind farm until the Western Daily Press telephoned the firm. The company cannot comment until it sees the formal objection.

By Chris Roe