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Campaigners fear wind turbine impact on birds

Opponents of a wind turbine scheme near Leek say the proposals could have a devastating impact on a conservation site for rare birds.

London-based Temporis Wind has submitted plans for a 250 foot wind turbine on land at Red Earth Farm, near Rudyard.

Families living near the proposed site, which perches on the edge of Gun Hill, say the plans could be harmful to two neighbouring meadows which have been managed to encourage the breeding of rare Lapwings, Curlew and Skylarks as part of the Peak Birds Project.

Retired insurance broker Fred Bradshaw from Upper Haddon Farm, who is leading a campaign against the development, has criticised a bird survey carried out by the applicant.

“The bird survey carried out on March 4 concluded that it is ‘unlikely the development will adversely affect the favourable conservation of species within the area,” said Mr Bradshaw.

“They also state that there are no nature conservation sites in the area.

“It is a pity they did not consult with the neighbours or carry out their survey at a time of bird activity, because if they had, they would have discovered that the very next meadow to the proposed site and the one below it are very much a conservation site for birds.” The Peak Birds Project was set up in 2001 in conjunction with the RSPB to encourage the breeding of endangered moorland birds such as the lapwing and skylark, which have reduced by 45 per cent and 53 per cent in the UK since 1970 respectively.

“This year, as in previous recent years, five or six pairs of lapwings and several pairs of curlews have nested, which one cannot imagine them doing as, by the applicants own prediction on noise levels, both these meadows come within the very noisy areas and very close to the blade sweep,” added Mr Bradshaw.

The RSPB says available evidence suggests that wind farms can harm birds by disturbance, habitat loss or damage, and collision.

A spokesman said: “If wind farms are located away from major migration routes and important feeding, breeding and roosting areas of those bird species known or suspected to be at risk, there is a strong possibility that they will have minimal impact on wildlife.

“The environmental impact of wind farms needs to be monitored and analysed as they operate and policies and practices will need to adapt as we learn more about the impacts of wind farms on birds closer to home.

“We scrutinise hundreds of wind farm applications every year to determine their likely wildlife impacts, and object to about seven per cent, because they threaten bird populations.”