A clean energy giant has insisted that controversial plans for a windfarm in Buchan can still go ahead – despite the discovery of badgers on the site.
Green Cat Renewables has drawn up plans to continue its proposed three-turbine development near Hatton without disrupting local habitats. It follows a report by the Scottish Badgers Association (SBA) which identified at least five visible setts on earmarked land at Auchenten.
Green Cat’s bid to build three 276ft turbines was tabled on behalf of Winchester doctor Gordon Masson last year. It drew more than 170 objections, including one from the owner of a nearby airfield who claimed the development could have a “detrimental impact” on flights.
Local councillors refused to back the scheme in October, but Dr Masson and Green Cat Renewables have now appealed to the Scottish Government to try and overturn the ruling.
The badgers’ homes were not identified in an environmental report drawn up by Aberdeenshire Council as part of the original consultation exercise.
However, they were discovered by the SBA earlier this year following concerns by a member of the public. Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, it is an offence to wilfully take, kill or injure a badger, to obstruct, destroy or damage a sett or to disturb a badger occupying a sett either with intent or recklessly.
However, Green Cat Renewables, which is behind scores of other wind turbine ventures throughout Scotland, believes the development could still be built alongside the badger setts.
In a letter to the government’s planning appeals office, spokesman Cedric Gerbier said most of the setts are “comfortably outwith” the development area. One of the setts, however, is near to a planned access track.
Mr Gerbier said that “appropriate mitigation measures” could be taken to avoid impacting on the habitats, including blocking pipes overnight, fencing off the sett, with wire so that badgers can pass through, and setting a site speed limit. Green Cat also proposes that the area could be closed to traffic during the night. Ian Hutchison, species protection officer at Scottish Badgers, said he had “grave concerns” about how one of the setts could be safeguarded.
The government is expected to deliver its verdict on the appeal next week.
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