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Fears for golden eagles at site of proposed windfarm  

A controversial application for a 14 turbine windfarm in a scenic area of Argyll frequented by young golden eagles will be debated by planners this summer.

A proposal by npower renewables to erect a windfarm at Allt Dearg, on moorland south of Lochgilphead overlooking Loch Fyne, was lodged with Argyll and Bute Council a year ago.

A host of objections on various grounds came in, including visual impact and the potential adverse impact of the windfarm on golden eagles and other local rare bird species.

Richard Kerr, Argyll and Bute Council’s planning team leader in Mid Argyll, said: “We have said to the applicants all along that it is not a suitable site for a windfarm.

“We will be advised by the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage what the ornithological situation is.

“It’s a very significant development, with quite a wide impact, because anybody travelling south from Lochgilphead towards Kintyre and looking back from Cowal would be able to see it.

“Originally it was intended to be on the higher ground but they have pushed it further east, towards Loch Fyne, because they are hoping to overcome the bird issues.”

The RSPB called for more information to be provided by the applicant about the potential impact on golden eagles. Mr Kerr said: “The original application didn’t satisfy the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage about bird issues so the applicant went and did a supplementary report with more ornithological details.

The RSPB haven’t commented yet, they asked for more time.

“The minimum statutory period for representations has expired but we would accept any representation up until the time of the committee, and that is unlikely to be before August.

A spokesman for Argyllwindfarms (AWF), a pressure group which has objected to the application, said the Allt Dearg site straddles one of the single largest patches of immature eagle habitat in mainland Argyll and added: “With at least seven dispersal areas in Argyll constrained by wind farms, AWF believes that serious consideration needs to be given as to whether development at Allt Dearg could tip cumulative eagle habitat loss into significance.”

The applicants have amended parts of the design to reduce potential adverse effects of the scheme. Amendments include a reduction of the site area, to avoid areas of bird sensitivity, and a reduction in the number of turbines, from 40 to 14.

The Press and Journal

13 June 2007

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