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Firm drops wind farm planned for raptor site  

Credit:  www.scotsman.com 27 October 2011 ~~

An energy company has withdrawn its application to build a 29-turbine wind farm on a site important for a threatened bird of prey.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said the development of the project at Waterhead Moor near Largs, Ayrshire, had faced “a range of construction and planning challenges”.

Part of the site was in a special protection area (SPA) and site of special scientific interest (SSSI) designated because of its importance for hen harriers.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) welcomed the news of the application’s withdrawal as “fantastic”.

SSE said the proposal had been 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.”

Source:  www.scotsman.com 27 October 2011

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