Protected birds and bats could be ‘chopped up like mincemeat’ if proposals to build a huge wind farm get the go-ahead, it has been claimed.
Energy supplier Airtricity unveiled £24 million plans to build eight 110-metre turbines in Bagot’s Park, near Abbots Bromley and the Staffordshire Way footpath last year.But wildlife experts have warned it could have a devastating impact on birds, including protected herons and bats that use the conservation area as a flight path.
“These huge turbines have already had a huge impact on bird life in Scotland and it will be no different in Bagot’s Park,” said Bevan Craddock, a founder member of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the county’s branch of the West Midland Bird Club.
“We are primarily concerned about the heronry which is just a few hundred metres from the proposed site. Conservationist Phil Drabble did a lot to protect these birds but it could all be in vain.
“Herons will be crisscrossing the site every day. They won’t learn from their mistakes because they won’t know what hit them.
“If the wind farm goes ahead they will be chopped up like mincemeat.”
The environmental assessment included in the planning application reveals Airtricity is aware of the potential impact on wildlife.
A spokesman for the company said: “Extensive new ecological surveys have been carried out on and around the site following consultations with a number of environmental organisations.
“Every effort has been made to design the layout so that any effects on protected or sensitive species, or their habitats, are minimised. Particular attention has been paid to grey herons and the heronry.”
But keen bird-spotter Mr Craddock does not believe the assessment is comprehensive enough.
“I have been a conservationist for years and have studied the habits of these animals closely,” he said.
“The environmental assessment has followed the guidelines but it is insufficient and doesn’t record accurately what happens.”
And Mr Craddock said the impact would not be limited to herons – endangered nightjars, owls, lapwings, golden plovers, woodcocks and waterfowl from the nearby Blithfield reservoir are just a few of the species that could also be affected.
“Larger birds are particularly susceptible because they can’t manoeuvre as well as their smaller cousins,” he said.
“There are no nightjars in Bagot’s Wood at the moment but there have been in the past and they are due to move back when the trees are felled in a few years – around the same time Airtricity want to put up their big turbines.
“There are only 4,000 breeding pairs left in Britain and everything needs to be done to protect their known habitats.”
Mr Craddock, who is also a member of Staffordshire Bat Group, also believes the turbines could have a devastating impact on those winged mammals.
“We don’t know enough about the behaviour of bats but it is clear that the turbines are killing them too although it’s not clear why since they are supposed to have echo location,” he said.
“People are rushing into wind farms and saying they are the answer to global warning but I for one don’t believe that to be the case. The potential impact on wildlife is frightening.”
In November, planning chiefs at East Staffordshire Borough Council approved a 70-metre-high testing mast at the site and last month plans for a second mast were approved. A full application is currently being considered.
6 March 2008
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