A wildlife charity has hailed the withdrawal of an application to build a 29-turbine wind farm on an Ayrshire moor as “fantastic news”.
The RSPB had opposed the development at Waterhead Moor near Largs as the area is known for its population of hen harriers.
Part of the planned site was in a special protection area (SPA) and site of special scientific interest (SSSI), designated because of its importance for the raptors.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said the project had faced “a range of construction and planning challenges”.
The energy company said the proposal was initiated before the site was designated a European SPA, which “added complexity”.
It said the decision to withdraw the proposal for the 72.5MW wind farm was taken following extensive consultation with key stakeholders and in consideration of investment priorities,
SSE director of onshore renewables David Gardner said: “This site had the wind resource and the site dynamics to be a very good project, but having listened to the concerns of the key consultees we have concluded that the reasonable action to take is to focus our resources on onshore wind farms elsewhere.
“We are grateful to all those who took part in the project consultations.”
RSPB said the proposal would have caused significant harm to the site if it had gone ahead.
It said the hen harrier is one of the most persecuted birds of prey in the UK and is designated “red status”, meaning it has the highest conservation priority.
Aedan Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland, applauded SSE’s decision. He said: “This is fantastic and welcome news from SSE.
“It is very encouraging that they give part of their reason for their withdrawal as being due to the environmental importance of the site.
“This area was proposed for SPA designation before SSE submitted their application and we have always maintained this is an unsuitable place for a wind farm.
“We hope that they will apply similar thinking and consideration to other sites where there are environmental concerns.
“For the most part, the renewables industry acts responsibly and does not propose development in areas that are important for wildlife. Today’s announcement by SSE illustrates that responsible attitude.”
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