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What is the “acceptable kill rate” of the Great Northern Diver for Scottish Government to consent the proposed Tiree Array?

Wind farm scrapped over fears for birds

Which begets the obvious Q? What is the “acceptable“ kill rate for the Great Northern Diver, and other species, for Scottish Government to consent the proposed Tiree Array?

It was interesting how the media reported this the shelving of the proposed Docking Shoal wind farm

The Guardian reported it as, “£10m wasted on the £1.5bn wind power project that could have powered 400,000 homes” and continued in similar vein with “ three and a half years of planning, have been wasted on the 540 megawatt Docking Shoal offshore wind farm. In reporting it “has been rejected by the government because it might kill 90 small birds a year” suggests the Guardian, of all papers may have been ridiculing the decision.

Centrica echoed the Guardian by stating “It appears to come down to 94 sandwich terns,” said a spokesman for Centrica, the parent group of British Gas which proposed the scheme.

The RSPB admitted it had opposed the Docking Shoal wind farm but said it supported the other schemes in the area. “We want to see renewable projects projects developed because we recognise that climate change will have a greater impact on wildlife [than wind turbines]. But three farms (Docking Shoal, Race Bank, Dudgeon) would have been an unacceptable risk.”

However, while it was given consent to proceed with its Race Bank wind farm, which will generate up to 580MW, plans for another 540MW farm called Docking Shoal were rejected because it would kill too many Sandwich terns, a protected species of bird.

But we now seem to be moving environmental protection into the realm of “acceptable kill rate” with Energy Secretary Ed Davey deeming a total annual death toll of 94 Sandwich terns killed by wind farms in the area was “acceptable”.

The combined proposed output of these 3 Norfolk offshore windfarms totaled 1720 MW, ie slightly less than the proposed Tiree Array (1800 MW), and cover a comparable area.

The RSPB states that the proposed Tiree Array is situated within an area known to be important for seabirds and migratory bird species. This includes species listed on Annex 1 of the EU Birds Directive and therefore subject to ‘special conservation measures’.

Many of the bird species utilising or passing through the Tiree Array area may be associated with designated sites nearby, eg corncrake and Greenland white-fronted geese associated with Special Protected Areas on Tiree may pass through the area on migration, and species such as gannet, associated with more distant designated sites such as the Ailsa Craig Special Protected Area, may feed in the area.

For great northern divers, the area could be of international importance, and the site is likely to become protected as a marine Special Protection Area for this species.

So it begets the obvious Q? What is the “acceptable” kill rate for the Great Northern Diver, and other species, for Scottish Government to consent the proposed Tiree Array?