A wind farm project in the Borders has been halted after a pair of golden eagles were spotted near the site.
Fred Olsen Renewables (FOR) wants to build eight turbines, with a maximum tip height of 180 metres, at the 543m high Scawd Law mountain above the ‘Granites Road’, the B709.
The firm first announced its plans in 2021 and said it was also exploring the potential to include mountain bike and walking trails within the wind farm development.
Colin Williams, who works in the wind energy development sector and has been co-opted onto the Innerleithen and District Community Council committee, told Monday’s meeting that FOR has not yet submitted its planning application to Scottish Borders Council.
He said that the developers had set up a community liaison group with representatives of various community councils and bodies.
At the meeting Mr Williams gave details from an email received from Julie Atkin, the project manager, which contained an update on the plans.
Reading the email, he said: “We had anticipated that the proposals would be submitted earlier this year.
“This has been delayed as a result of two eagles being identified on site.”
The land in that region is close to the Moorfoot Hills Site of Special Scientific Interest and Mr Williams said it is not surprising that these birds are there.
He added: “There has been a south of Scotland golden eagle introduction in the last three or four years.”
The email continued: “We are undertaking further bird surveys to understand the eagle movements prior to progressing the application further.
“Any further application to the site would be undertaken in close consultation with Nature Scot, the council and South of Scotland Golden Eagle Group.
“I appreciate this is disappointing and slower than we anticipated, however we hope that our bird surveys will provide us with the assurances needed in order to progress with the project.”
Mr Williams said: “That wording may suggest the whole application is on hold but that is my conclusion.”
The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Group aims to reinforce the “small, isolated and vulnerable population” of the iconic bird in the Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway.
A spokesperson for the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project said: “We’d like to thank communities and landowners in the area for playing a key role in helping to protect golden eagles, which are essential to supporting a healthy ecosystem in the south of Scotland.
“Keeping disturbance and human contact around these iconic birds to a minimum is absolutely critical in our work to reinforce the local golden eagle population.
“Golden eagles are protected by the law, through the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Any careless or reckless acts which disturb them could incur a fine. To maintain our distance, we’re keeping a close eye on our birds using satellite tags and carefully placed cameras.”
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