November 30, 2007
Letters, Scotland

Bird risks are too great

In response to the letter from Tommy Spence (‘Reveal your Sources’), regarding collisions of birds with turbines, I have some information from the RSPB and the SNH. The RSPB say that the area proposed for the development is known to hold significant numbers of breeding birds, including red-throated divers and merlin.

Red throated divers and merlin are listed in ANNEX 1 of EU Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds, which requires the UK government to take special conservation measures to protect their habitats.

Shetland holds almost half of Britain’s breeding red-throated divers. A survey of breeding red-throated divers in Shetland, carried out in 1994, found only 389 breeding pairs, a 40 per cent decline since the previous full survey in 1983. Shetland holds approximately1.5 per cent of the British breeding population of merlins, approximately 20 pairs.

Consultation is on going to reduce the impact of the development especially on the breeding red-throated divers, which are considered to be particularly liable to collision with wind turbines.

The RSPB’s response to the development is based on the findings of the environmental assessment (EA) and the predicted impact of the development on the breeding birds

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report that the revised layout of the development is being put through a Collision Risk Analysis, which will calculate how many birds of key species (principally red-throated divers and merlin) are likely to collide with the turbines each year. The revised layout is also being used to work out where the access tracks and associated quarries/borrow pits and peat disposal areas will go. Then the environmental statement will be published. This presents all the data collected on the site over the past three to four years in a public document. This will include an assessment of impacts and proposed mitigation measures on (amongst other things) birds, otters, habitats, peat, fresh waters, noise and landscape and scenery. This should provide the development’s full environmental impacts.

In the words of the RSPB: “The RSPB views climate change as the most serious threat to birds and their habitats, and sees renewable energy as one way to alleviate this threat. However, it would be entirely self defeating to advocate building wind farms right in the middle of our most important wildlife areas.”

According to the RSPB the developers of the proposed wind farm on Lewis in the Western Isles, acknowledge that 46 golden eagles will be killed as a result of collisions, as well as between 20 and 40 red-throated divers, and hundreds of dunlin lost to displacement.

Anybody that thinks developments like this are acceptable obviously don’t care less about the wildlife and natural environment around them.

I hope this has answered some of questions.

Phil Smith

The Shetland News

30 November 2007

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