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SNH withdraws objection to Skye windfarm

Scottish Natural Heritage has formally advised the Highland Council that it wishes to withdraw its holding objection to the proposed windfarm at Edinbane on Skye.

This follows a public consultation by Highland Council on the latest submission from the developers AMEC which comprised a detailed appraisal of the likely effect of the proposals on golden eagles

SNH lodged a holding objection to the proposal on 2 October 2006 pending further assessment of the impact of the proposals on the Skye golden eagle population and the Cuillins Special Protection Area (SPA). That holding objection has now been withdrawn by SNH, subject to planning conditions to control the type of turbine used.

The proposal is to construct an 18 turbine windfarm and associated infrastructure on land between Edinbane and Glen Vic Askill farm in North Skye. Since the development was first proposed it has gradually reduced in size from 28 turbines to the current 18 as a series of environmental considerations have been taken into account.

The key natural heritage issue in this case has been the likely effect of the development on the Skye golden eagle population and the knock-on effect that this may have on the Cuillins SPA which is of European importance for its golden eagles.

AMEC employed specialist ornithological consultants Haworth Conservation to carry out the assessment.

The report concluded that the likelihood of collision with the turbines was low and if any displacement of eagles occurred there was sufficient alternative habitat available elsewhere on the island. SNH is satisfied that the report addresses its earlier concerns over possible effects upon the eagles within the Cuillins SPA.

SNH has also advised that a legal condition to set up monitoring of the effect of the development on raptors should be established. This monitoring scheme will help provide information to inform decisions on windfarm proposals in other areas supporting similar levels of raptor activity.

Kristin Scott, Area Manager for West Highland said: “Skye is a stonghold for golden eagles and the Cuillins are part of a network of European sites designated to protect this majestic bird. The August 2006 planning submission was ambiguous about the likely effects of the proposal on this species, and therefore we lodged a holding objection.

“As a result, AMEC commissioned Haworth Conservation Ltd to carry out a detailed assessment of the likely effects of the proposals on the Skye golden eagle population. The resulting report was detailed and thorough and provided some much-needed clarity on the subject. We are now confident that any effects on golden eagles will be minor and therefore feel able to withdraw our earlier objection”.

Fraser Symonds, Operations Manager for West Highland, said: “The area is mainly used by young non-territorial golden eagles and hopefully monitoring will shed some light on how they react to turbines which will be useful in assessing windfarms in other areas.”

myedinburgh.org

26 February 2007