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Seabirds fly into danger at rural turbines

A controversial windfarm planned for rural Buchan could wipe out scores of seabirds each year, a leading conservation charity has warned.

RSPB Scotland has spoken out against proposals for eight turbines at Hill of Braco, near Hatton, south of Peterhead.

The animal welfare body believes that at least 48 herring gulls would collide with the masts each year – representing just under 1% of the local breeding population.

However, the actual number of gulls killed in and around the area could be far higher if other turbine developments – including plans for Fraserburgh and Peterhead harbours – are considered.

The amount of gulls in the north-east area, which nest on coastal cliffs from Collieston to Buchan Ness at Boddam, had dropped by 30% in recent years.

In an objection to Aberdeenshire Council planners, RSPB Scotland called for more details on how the scheme could impact on local bird numbers.

“Based on the information presented, and the likely impact of the development, RSPB Scotland objects to this proposal based on potential adverse impacts on herring gulls,” a spokeswoman said last night.

“This is largely due to potential cumulative impacts of this development in combination with other wind turbine proposals, and the need to assess this fully.”

She said further information was needed.

She said the Hill of Braco area was particularly busy with birds because of the Stoneyhill landfill site nearby.

It is another blow for the ambitious windfarm scheme, which has already attracted more than 1,000 complaints from residents as well as an objection from the Ministry of Defence, claiming it could affect RAF Buchan radars.

The local authority has also received objections about the plan from air traffic control service Nats and Aberdeen Airport.

A spokesman for developers PNE Wind UK said last night: “PNE is aware of the request for additional information in relation to bird movements around the Hill of Braco windfarm site and will provide the data needed to answer the questions raised by the RSPB in their letter to Aberdeenshire Council.

“In relation to air safety concerns, PNE has always been clear that we would seek to work with stakeholders including the MoD, Nats and Aberdeen Airport to address their concerns and hope t his can be achieved before the planning application goes to the area committee.”