Windfarm effects on wildlife, and in particular on rare species, are something which all developers have to take into account, and which may be an important part of why a particular windfarm is or is not permitted.
SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) plays a key role in helping to assess the likely wildlife impacts and in weighing up the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) commissioned by the Developer. It is worth looking at the comments by SNH on the Linfairn scoping report to see how seriously the SNH takes this. [See fuller comments on the SNH’s response here]
“As highlighted in the Interim Guidance, three tests must be satisfied before the licensing authority can issue a licence under Regulation 44(2) of the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended) to permit otherwise prohibited acts. An application for a licence will fail unless all of the three tests are satisfied. […] Test 3 – Regulation 44(3)(b) states that a licence cannot be issued unless Scottish Government is satisfied that the action proposed “will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range” (Scottish Government will, however, seek the expert advice of Scottish Natural Heritage on this matter).Consideration of European protected species must be included as part of the planning application process, not as an issue to be dealt with at a later stage. Any planning consent given without due consideration to these species is likely to breach European Directives with the possibility of consequential delays or the project being halted by the EC.”
Key species to look out for: Hen harriers, otters, pine martens, red squirrels, bats. We would strongly encourage anyone who is walking over any of the sites to take a keen interest in any wildlife sightings – and to take a camera!
Our volunteers report that there are hen harriers in South Sclenteuch and High Keirs. Can anyone report on nests in these areas?
An osprey has been sighted in the area of Sclenteuch – it could be the one which nests in the Glengennet area but this could be on its flight path. There is also a possibilty that Loch Spallender would be attractive for osprey to nest.
Merlin and goshawks have also been seen in these areas.
There are geese and waterfowl on Loch Spallender. Could the geese could be breeding there?
Maurice McPhillimey (Glenalla Farm) reports 2 nesting Barn Owls, one in the ruined building at Garleffin and the other in one of his barns. Also Buzzards, Sparrow hawks, Goshawks, Falcons and even a Hen Harrier hunting.
SNH (see above) is particularly keen on identifying any effect on pine martens, otters, and bats:
(p. 54): RE mammals, “The list of mammals [in the Linfairn Scoping report] would appear to relate only to those found in the desk top exercise. SNH strongly advises survey is also undertaken for pine marten. Reference needs to be made to the various levels of protection afforded these species, of particular note are those with European protection that is, European Protected Species (EPS) such as, otters and bats.”
(p. 55): “One key effect particularly at this site which is extensive and covers a variety of habitats is the potential cumulative impacts on species such as bats, otters and bird. We strongly recommend the EIA addresses cumulative impacts on sensitive species.”
Can anyone confirm otters around Loch Spallender? Or water voles in the watercourses around the loch? Or at any of the other sites.
We know that otters are on the river Girvan! Here’s some evidence!
This picture of an otter on the upper Girvan comes from the Ayrshire Rivers Trust who are an important consultee on wildlife matters.
PLEASE KEEP THE REPORTS COMING IN!
From Wendy Anderson (Little Garroch): We have a red squirrel who visits our peanut feeders regularly, along with a couple of greys. Also seen in and around our house: buzzards (2 pairs), badgers, foxes, roe deer, chaffinches, robins, blackbirds, swallows, swifts, sparrows, coal tits, blue tits, siskins, a barn owl, a tawny owl, bats, woodpeckers, otters in the river alongside Balbeg’s pond walk, herons on the pond. We also witness an annual toad migration from the said pond up the hill towards the proposed area of the smaller of the Linfairn sites.
from Thomas Ferguson: Otters seen frequently on the Doon at Patna.
from David Stokes: I regularly see otters on the river [Girvan]. This is of course a reflection of the good salmon and trout stocks in the water. I have seen them on all sections of the river and also along Lambdoughty burn.
Peregrine Sightings. Of all the places to spot a peregrine falcon, the most ironic must surely be perched on a meteorological mast at Knockgardner, right in the middle of the northern section of the proposed Linfairn wind farm. This is exactly where one was photographed by John Elverson at the end of March. This is what he wrote to us:
RSPB makes a killing… from windfarm giants behind turbines accused of destroying rare birds
The Daily Mail published an article at the beginning of April about the RSPB and their connections with wind farm developers. Click here to read the story.
We have a red squirrel who visits our peanut feeders regularly, along with a couple of greys. Also seen in and around our house (Little Garroch): buzzards (2 pairs), badgers, foxes, roe deer, chaffinches, robins, blackbirds, swallows, swifts, sparrows, coal tits, blue tits, siskins, a barn owl, a tawny owl, bats, woodpeckers, otters in the river alongside Balbeg’s pond walk, herons on the pond. We also witness an annual toad migration from the said pond up the hill towards the proposed area of the smaller of the Linfairn sites. The RSPB, who were once advocating that wind turbines did not affect birds, lost a number of their members who had voiced concern about the impact of wind farms on bird populations. The RSPB finally acknowledged that the noise of the turbines can interfere with the breeding cyles. Birds are sometimes driven away from an area completely and don’t return.
There are often otters seen in the Doon river at Patna.
I saw an eagle whilst out walking the Dyke walk. Unfortunately i did not have a camera with me but i got a good look and then checked my RSPB book when i got home. T`was certainly an Eagle. Stunning.
I saw otters on Loch Bradan & Loch Finlas last year when out paddling and sailing my canoe. I haven’t been up there with my boat this year yet but now the better weather is creeping in it won’t be long. I also understand that otters are seen frequently on Linfairn Loch by fishermen.
Goosander with 14 chicks on the river, plus pair of Sandpipers (possibly 2 pairs) between Bennan and Balbeg. Also female adder basking on pathway at Loch Bradan .
I have saw male and female hen harriers and peregrines in the keirs area lots of times. Ospreys fishing on bogton loch, and lots of otter sightings on the bogton and river doon from waterside to craigengillan and also the river girvan.Also water vole Iriver doon. And last year I saw a golden eagle being mobbed by gulls right above my head when I was fishing the river stinchar near colmonell.