Amended plans have been submitted for three 10Kw wind turbines in Rushen to allay concerns about the impact of the development on birds.
Cheeseden Investments Limited applied in 2014 for the turbines on land at Ballaman in Ballnahowe Road, Port Erin.
But the application (14/00632/B) has been under consideration ever since then, with concerns – particularly about the red-billed chough – raised by Manx Wildlife Trust, Manx BirdLife, Manx Natural Heritage and the Manx Chough Project.
In December 2016, Rushen Eco-Energy commissioned Suffolk-based company Huckle Ecology Ltd to provide a report on the potential effects of the turbines on the ecology of the area.
A site meeting was held in mid-January, attended by representatives of DEFA, the Manx Chough Project, Rushen Eco-Energy and Dr Jon Huckle.
The amendments feature recommendations that were made in an ecological mitigation strategy report, prepared following that meeting.
The position of the turbines has been changed from a triangular formation to a straight line to minimise the risk of birds colliding with the blades.
And they would be set in a parallel line a further distance away – 15 metres instead of four metres – from the alder/sod hedge on the west of the site to reduce the risk to birds nesting or sheltering in the hedge.
In the report it states that it was ’unlikely’ that the proposed turbines would have any ’adverse impacts’ on the local red-billed chough population.
It described the above measures as a ’precautionary approach’ to minimise the risk posed.
Further proposals made in the ecological mitigation strategy report include that ground staff at Ballaman carry out a monthly patrol of the grassland beneath the turbines to check for bird carcasses.
Incidents of bird mortality should be reported to Rushen Eco-Energy and DEFA.
And it was proposed that the grassland beneath the turbines be maintained as a relatively long grassland to reduce its attractiveness to choughs, which prefer to forage in short grassland.
The three-bladed turbines have an approximate blade length of 3m and would be mounted on masts about 18m high.
In his November 2016 submission, Manx Chough Project co-ordinator Mr Moore said the population of choughs on the Meayll peninsula was one of ’international importance’.
In the most recent survey, the island was found to be home to 431 choughs, 106 of which were within 5 km of Ballaman.
During the site visit in January, choughs were observed foraging in fields to the south and north of Ballaman, and observed flying along the coastal habitats to the west.
Individual birds were also observed flying over Ballaman itself and occasionally resting on the tops of the buildings there.
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