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Offshore windfarms approved, but fears over potential impact on seabirds 

Credit:  East Lothian Courier | 17 October 2014 | www.eastlothiancourier.com ~~

Two offshore windfarms which plan to use East Lothian as their landing sites have been given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government, amid fears for the future of the county’s seabirds.

nchcape Offshore Windfarm, which is 15km off the Angus coast, and Neart na Gaoithe in the Outer Forth Estuary, both want to bring energy ashore in the county.

Inchcape has planning permission in principle to build a substation on part of the Battle of Prestonpans site, while a public inquiry is due to be held on Monday into plans by Neart na Gaoithe developers to lay underground cables in the county, connecting their offshore site to Crystal Rig windfarm in the Lammermuirs.

However, bird conservation charity the RSPB Scotland says the windfarms, along with two more in the Firth of Forth area, could have a devastating effect on seabird populations.

They say there is nowhere else in Europe with offshore wind schemes proposed in such close proximity to seabird colonies, and estimates sugest more than 1,000 gannets and hundreds of kittiwakes could be killed each summer, as well as hundreds of puffins, as they lose important feeding grounds.

Stuart Housden, RSPB Scotland director, said: “It is extremely disappointing the Scottish Government have decided to approve developments which put so many thousands of Scotland’s seabirds at risk.”

Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, said the centre would be working constructively to meet the needs of renewable energy production and marine wildlife.

He said: “We fully understand, and are fully supportive, of the need to diversify Scotland’s energy production and to focus efforts on renewable energy.

“We are seeing the damaging effects that climate change is having on our internationally important seabird populations.

“But we want to make sure that the risks to wildlife are addressed.

“When these windfarms are constructed, it must be done in a way which achieves maximum mitigation of the effect on Scotland’s seabirds.”

Source:  East Lothian Courier | 17 October 2014 | www.eastlothiancourier.com

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