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Concerns on risk to birds of prey over turbine plan

Red kites and other rare birds of prey would be at risk from big new wind turbines proposed for a zoo near Huntingdon, a conservation organisation has warned.

An objection to the scheme at Hamerton Zoo Park by a member of the British and Irish Red Kite Co-ordination Group said the birds would “undoubtedly” be at risk.

The zoo wants to install two new turbines standing almost double the height at 150ft as its current turbines.

People living near the zoo are also objecting to the scheme because they believe it would have a major impact on the small rural community.

Members of Huntingdonshire District Council’s development management panel came close to refusing the turbine plan at their meeting in August, but decided to defer their decision until after making a site visit and gathering further information.

Planners at the council are standing by their original recommendation that the bigger turbines should be approved. They believe the scheme would not have a major impact.

Cllr Doug Dew, panel chairman, said they would have to agree plausible reasons for rejecting the application and that the site visit would take in similarly-sized turbines elsewhere so councillors could make a comparison.

He said: “We have to find positive reasons for saying no which stand up. If we do that would be brilliant.”

Red kites have expanded into the Hamerton area after a successful campaign to reintroduce the birds which were facing extinction.

A member of the red kite group objected to the plan, saying: “The turbines will prove a threat to the following raptor species: red kite, peregrine, hobby, all on schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, kestrel and sparrowhawk.

“Red kites scavenging in the area of the wind turbines would undoubtedly be at risk.”

Fiona Anderson, chairman of Hamerton and Steeple Gidding Parish Meeting, said there was “very clear” support for the campaign against the turbines in the community and that residents felt the application was too soon after the originals were approved only 18 months ago.

The council has raised the issue of red kites with Natural England and has been told there was sufficient separation between their nests and the turbines.

The zoo was not available for comment.