THE UK’S largest wildlife charity has registered its objection to plans for one of Europe’s largest onshore wind farms on moorland in Shetland.
RSPB Scotland said the 127 turbine development would seriously harm important bird populations and blanket bog habitat.
The RSPB’s position mirrors environmental concerns expressed in objections by conservation bodies John Muir Trust and also Shetland Amenity Trust.
The bird charity’s Shetland area manager Pete Ellis said the RSPB was not against wind farm developments in principle and was prepared to continue the dialogue with developer Viking Energy.
He said the RSPB recognised the original project had been downsized but “on examination” had to conclude that “insufficient changes have been made to the proposed development to allow us to withdraw our objection”.
He continued saying that although the application area was not a designated site, it had nevertheless “very high conservation value” due to important populations of whooper swan, red-throated diver, merlin, lapwing, golden plover, dunlin, whimbrel, Artic skua, Arctic tern and skylark.
Mr Ellis said: “We do not accept that it has been shown that a significant CO2 reduction would result from this proposal, nor that the reduction would justify damage to birds and bogs.
“Moreover, the method of disposal of such a large volume of excavated peat is likely to further damage blanket bog and may not prevent release of its stored carbon. We do not consider that the application conforms to important Government and Development Plan policies and consequently the proposal should not be approved in its current form.
“RSPB Scotland still believes that proposals on a more modest scale may be acceptable on this site. We would be happy to discuss any matters raised in this letter in more detail and would be prepared to review our position should these matters be adequately addressed.”
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