Campaigners against a proposed windfarm on the borders of Angus and Perthshire have produced a dossier they believe will stop the project.
Firms behind the 14-turbine Saddle Hill windfarm, near Kilry, believe it would not have a substantial effect on protected species, but nature watchers say they have found evidence of a whole host of development-sensitive animals.
In March, The Courier published footage of a wildcat, which came as a protected species report was being compiled by Stewart Miller and Dr Jo Chapman Campbell. The scientists have now submitted their findings to Angus Council, Perth and Kinross Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, VisitScotland and the John Muir Trust.
They believe “it is clear from our findings that wildcat, pine marten, badger, otter and osprey are living on the site and moving across the associated hillside and moor land areas.”
They add: “The report concludes that the surveys carried out by the developer, Wind Prospect, in the environmental impact assessment were insufficient and inaccurate with regard to these protected species.”
Wind Prospect Developments Ltd, on behalf of EDF Energy Renewables, submitted a planning application to Angus Council and Perth and Kinross Council. It says its initial investigations and those of consultee SNH did not reveal the animals’ presence and pledged that if approval is granted, measures will be put in place to benefit the area’s protected species. Mr Miller and Dr Campbell have also submitted a “confidential” appendix to SNH on this matter.
Along with raptors, the animals are enshrined in national guidance, forbidding the development of windfarms near sensitive sites.
Conservationists believe there are only 35 wildcats remaining in Scotland.
The window for consultation and comment closed in January, and generated an unprecedented response from the public for both councils.
Sarah Dooley, Saddle Hill windfarm project manager, said: “We carried out detailed environmental studies and submitted the results alongside the planning application for the Saddle Hill Wind Farm. They found no evidence of wildcat activity at the proposed site, although otters and bats were confirmed to be present, potentially along with pine marten and badger.
“Our studies concluded that the proposed windfarm will not have a significant effect on any animal species. However, we would welcome the opportunity to review further details of any other wildlife sightings. “Should the wind farm be granted planning consent, we would carry out further pre-construction studies.
“If protected species were found to be present at the site, we would develop a Habitat Management Plan in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage. This would include putting in place measures that would benefit these protected species – it is perfectly possible for wind- farms and such species to co-exist with the adoption of appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures.”
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