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Firth of Forth wind farm ‘spells disaster’ for Scotland’s seabirds 

Credit:  Mark Smith | Thursday April 13 2023 | The Times | thetimes.co.uk ~~

Plans to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms in the Firth of Forth have been condemned as a potential catastrophe for Scotland’s seabird population.

The developer SSE Renewables plans to build 307 wind turbines 29 miles off the East Lothian coast in the outer Firth of Forth. The scheme would have the capacity to generate 4.1GW, enough energy to power five million homes.

SSE says the Berwick Bank scheme is vital if Scotland is to meet its target of 11GW new offshore wind by 2030, but the plans have been described as damaging and unacceptable in formal objections to the Scottish government agency Marine Scotland.

The latest objection, from the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, follows others lodged by the RSPB and the National Trust for Scotland, which raise concerns about the potential impact of the plans on the estimated 100,00 seabirds that use the Firth of Forth as a feeding ground. These include black-legged kittiwakes, razorbills and Atlantic puffins.

Susan Davies, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said that if the plan was allowed to proceed, it could lead to significant deaths among bird populations that were already under threat. Kittiwakes have suffered big declines and puffins were recently added to the UK’s red list of birds vulnerable to extinction.

She said: “Rather than find a less damaging location, for example further offshore, for their development, SSE Renewables have forged ahead with their proposals.

“This flies in the face of all their environmental data pointing to this being one of the most damaging places to site an offshore wind farm in Scotland – both directly and in combination with other developments already consented.”

Kirsty Nutt of the RSPB said that bird populations would be damaged in a number of ways, either through birds colliding directly with the turbines or by the structures preventing or reducing access to feeding grounds. She added that the impact on already struggling seabird populations would be catastrophic.

She said: “It’s the wrong place for this development.”

Alex Meredith, project director of Berwick Bank, said he disagreed with the objections and it was unrealistic to propose a different location for the wind farm at this stage.

He also said SSE had amended its designs to reduce potential risks to seabirds, including reducing the overall area of the scheme by a third and increasing the height of the turbines to provide an additional gap to help seabirds, particularly kittiwake, navigate the site.

He added: “The offshore wind industry is critical to ensuring we prevent the worst possible impacts of climate change, which is arguably the biggest single danger to Scottish seabirds. Projects at the scale and ambition of Berwick Bank can ensure Scotland is a world leader in offshore wind, but we must avoid delay and we must seek to deliver for both climate and nature.”

Source:  Mark Smith | Thursday April 13 2023 | The Times | thetimes.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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