I'll be honest, my knowledge of feathers is limited! I can tell a peacock from a magpie, and a buzzard from an owl but I'm no expert, although I am very fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful friends who keep me company in the garden and around the croft.
I count amongst my friends:
"the odd couple" - a buzzard and a crow (? large black bird) who used to be part of a family with the buzzards parents a couple of years ago. I still marvel that they're together and haven't grown apart with age.
Oystercatchers - which have nested in the fields with my horses for the past 3 years.
A short eared owl - which I frequently see sitting on a fence post near my home in the middle of the afternoon, and was lucky enough to have hunting in my hay field not 50m from me as I hand weeded the crop of a few dock plants last summer.
Barn owls and cuckoos - which I hear at night throughout the summer and autumn.
Ospreys, which nest who knows where? - If you find out you have to keep it secret! Probably the local fishery which created an osprey nest and has filmed the chicks for the past couple of years (although other neighbours tell me that they too have ospreys nesting in the vicinity so maybe it's not just the ones from the fishery who visit my neighbour's ponds).
Geese −10s, 100s, sometimes 1000s of them smother the farmers fields next to me in the autumn and winter. What a sight!
Swallows and starlings with their fabulous displays that far outperform the red devils or fireworks for me.
A couple of magpies that I love to watch stripping the pine cones using holes in my fir tree and sticks sometimes too;
woodpeckers (a family of 3) - I think maybe they help the magpies by drilling holes in the tree, but was quite concerned when the youngster took to attempting to drill the concrete water tower at the back of the house last year...there are woodlice in the door there, but I figured the young birds beak would not be a match for the concrete as he didn't seem to realise his parents were working the door... I guess that's teenagers for you, they never really listen do they?!
skylarks and lapwings; singing while I work in the garden.
chaffinch - by the dozen; and a variety of tits - who seem to appreciate the newly filled seed feeders... I swear they cost me more in feed than the horses sometimes!
...And I can't forget my personal pet robin... although I think actually, I'm probably his personal pet worm digger... he's there every Sunday morning waiting for me in the garden and helping me turn the earth. I think he's a distant cousin of the (now departed I fear) black pheasant with the green ring around his neck who used to knock on my kitchen window at 8.12 precisely each morning for a handful of barley for breakfast. I'm sure it started as a territorial fight with the window, but he quickly learned there was a reward and returned each day for a couple of years...I've not seen him for some weeks now, i guess he maybe made someone's Christmas... I miss him!
Which brings me to the point of my post... my next door neighbour. For 20 years he's deployed agricultural subsidies into wildlife habitat creation - riparian schemes, woodland schemes, around a dozen ponds, sand-martin nesting points, grass margins etc. He's been very successful too, won many awards for the various initiatives. All credit to him!
But sadly, the agricultural grants are coming to an end... and the new subsidies that are "easy money" are wind turbines. So the planning application has gone in with no mention of a number of the species above (geese, osprey, barn owls, etc). The Short Eared Owl got a mention - as did the Golden Plover, but were dismissed as historic documented sightings. I guess when you limit your fieldwork to a desk bound review of historic records, most of your species will be historic documented sightings...
I've raised an objection, but it's likely to be dismissed as "nimbyism"; residents concerns generally are. The planners consider a farm, an agricultural holding, as an acceptable site with little sensitivity based on the applicant's assessment that there is no risk to wildlife...and therefore haven't requested a full Environmental Impact Assessment. That means there's no collision risk impact assessment, no site survey and species count; nothing.
Interestingly the wildlife map doesn't show much activity in the 200m of the turbines... it misses the ponds, the feeder barrel in a tree not 40m away, the bat activity along the stream and track that runs around the same distance. The otters and badgers and water voles similarly go without mention.
The conclusions of the report are that the site is suitable. Given that many species are not mentioned, and the site is described as "agricultural land" it's hardly surprising. The person preparing the report has a financial interest in the application, and no professional designation.
But it's worse, this application is for only 2 turbines so it can't be harmful... it fails to mention the other 24 that are within a few kilometres and the further 8 that are already approved to the landscape, or the other 20 odd applications (many for clusters) that are currently under consideration. The argument is incremental change rather than cumulative impact on the birds attempting to fly through the area, or just go about their daily business safely.
I mention the numbers not for sympathy, but to highlight that some sites in the area are suitable for turbines, and others are not - this one, is not, based on the sensitivity of the habitat that will be destroyed. I believe this will be obvious if a proper site assessment is conducted. I'll also point out that I'm not the closest property to the development... that one is less than 600m from one of the turbines and the residents have no financial interest in the turbine, and every concern about the impact it will have on the roosting bats and the barn owl believed to be roosting in their old wooden barn.
The applicant, on the other hand, cannot see the turbines from his property on the other side of the hill...
Anyone out there who is a far more credible witness than me willing to raise an objection on the grounds that a site that has won so many environmental awards should have a full environmental impact assessment conducted by a professionally qualified and competent individual? It's a numbers game, and the tenants in the farm cottages have signed the letters of support... well they would, wouldn't they?
I realise none of you will know the site so can't raise objections based on specifics, but regardless of whether you're for or against wind energy, you'll surely agree that the planning department and Councillors should be given complete, accurate, valid, reliable and timely decision making information to determine whether or not each site is suitable for the proposed development?
Please support the wildlife in "my local habitat", I'd hate to lose the bats, and the ospreys, and the odd couple, and the wise old owl who sits on the fence and watches the world go by...
And if any of you are experts on any of the species I've mentioned, and can come up with an objection on their behalf, I'm sure they'll thank you for looking out for them. And I'll thank you for emptying my pockets as I sink further funds into bird seed, fat balls, peanuts, fruit and worms in the coming months!
If you're willing to help, you can object online at
Click on the "submit comment for..." button near the top and fill in the online form. It will only take a moment, but may save many lives.
And if any of you live in the area and would like to come out and see the site for yourselves, I'd be happy to host you!
PLEASE, PLEASE, take a moment to OBJECT to this development and request that complete, accurate, valid, reliable and timely information is provided by a professionally qualified environmentalist holding a designation such as CEnv, MIEEM or MIEMA.
Welcome to the forum,
What a wonderful place you live in,
lots of great wildlife around you,
I'm bumping this up again for you so the morning people can read it,
i can't get into your link,
Whilst I can't comment on your particular issue I can feel for your situation. we had a small industrial unit being proposed near me and the EIA found a small drain which they proposed to divert and use as grey water in the buildings (green ideas). What the EIA missed was that the 'drain' happened to be the headwater of a 3 mile stream further down the hlil. If they had blocked up the drain what would have happened. Environmental assessments do have to be checked.
You're right sugar, I am incredibly lucky and I am thankful every morning I wake up to birdsong in the summer. It's actually even better than I indicated because I frequently have deer within a few hundred metres of my windows in the mornings. I love to watch the young badgers playing rough and tumble down the hill, the foxes and occasionally, if I'm really lucky even a glimpse of an otter, although they are far more shy and disappear when they see me. Thanks for bumping it up. I hope you can copy and paste the link? I'm guessing the website blocks live links. This one may also work.
Thanks again for your support, it's nice to know there are people out there who care!
Yes, these are exactly the kind of concerns we have Bob.
I believe that if the EIA was professionally conducted in an objective and independent manner, the application would not have been made in the first instance as the conclusions would have been very different. And even if it was made it would be obvious to all that it is the wrong site.
Another field a few miles away with the same development may be perfectly acceptable. Somewhere that takes it away from the ponds where the ospreys fish and the otters have holts! And ideally far enough away that it doesn't add to the cumulative impact for the migratory birds.
I'm guessing that if the bird strike rate is 1 in 100 (and I don't know if it is as I've never done a collision impact assessment myself and am not qualified to do so but logic tells me that at least one bird is likely to be killed by each turbine annually), then having 24 operational turbines with another 8 or 9 already approved means we are close to losing 1/3 of our bird population...
I can't believe that is sustainable for any population, particularly if you add the other hazards they face - road traffic, flying into windows or power lines, landing on wet roads that they think are ponds, avoiding "the inglorious basterds" (as the film put it) on the 12 August etc, etc, etc.
Anyone interested in seeing the cumulative impact in this area should look at www.cawt.co.uk and click on the maps tab - I doubt any of you have ever seen so many turbines in such a small area... I'm not even convinced turbine factories have seen this many so close together! I frequently travel to NL and they certainly don't have this many in such close proximity onshore.
I think there's "A big yellow taxi" around here somewhere...
I've been in touch with our Conservation team in Aberdeenshire and they have provided a response to your concerns which I have posted below. You can find out more about RSPB and wind farms here, here and here.
Thank you for posting your concerns about the proposed wind turbine development near you and for detailing your local bird sightings. RSPB Scotland has not been consulted on this application as we are not a statutory consultee. However, I have had a look at the application and the accompanying ecological assessment.
We do not hold a definitive database of bird distribution within Grampian but we do hold information on the distribution of protected species and important areas. We can only get involved with applications where there is a perceived significant impact on such species at a population level and on protected areas. To date there is little evidence to suggest that small-scale wind turbines have a significantly negative impact on bird species.
Regarding the species you mention specifically, if there was a proposal right next to a known osprey nest site, or that of another protected raptor or owl, then we would be likely to raise concerns with the Council. However, this is not the case here.
Geese are present within the area and move widely across farmland in Aberdeenshire. However, due to the distance of this site from the Loch of Strathbeg Special Protection Area and the Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch Special Protection Area, it is not anticipated that these proposed turbines will have a significant impact on the SPA populations of geese. SNH advise developers and consultants to use an avoidance rate of 99% when calculating the potential collision risk for geese. This is based on independent scientific research carried out at various operational windfarms. This suggests that away from areas with high concentrations such as roost sites, geese rarely fly into turbines and apparently can avoid them.
There is no evidence to suggest that the smaller bird species you mention, which are more manoeuvrable, are negatively impacted by wind turbines.
We are increasingly concerned about the potential cumulative impact of wind turbines in Aberdeenshire and we highlight this to the Council in most of our responses to planning applications. We also recommend that post-construction cumulative impact monitoring is undertaken in order to better inform future responses.
While we are sympathetic to your concerns, in this case, we do not feel that we have robust grounds to object.
Thanks for this response Ian. I'm still concerned, having seen the Brandenburg records (courtesy of a contact in Europe). This shows that Ospreys and other raptors are at significant risk from turbines and records 1 Osprey notified as killed by a turbine in Scotland (apparently not by the site monitoring)!
www.ceoe.udel.edu/.../acua_quarterlyreport_fall09.pdf records 4 Ospreys in the period 2007 − 2009.
SNH Cumulative Effect of Windfarms paragraph 47 states "A cumulative assessment can apply at a number of levels, for example:
- an individual pair, or birds occupying a single breeding site;
- a regional or local population;
- a national population..."
One of the main issues in this area, is not "these 2" proposed turbines, it's the existing quantity and the already approved. From my lounge window I can see 24 with another 9 approved already that will fit within that view as far as I can tell. It excludes a similar number a few kilometres to the side of the property, and doesn't take account of over 30 others that are currently in the planning process. At what point does the cumulative impact kick in for birds?
I recognise that RSPB can't object to all of them, but the complete lack of a proper EIA on this application - including omission of a significant quantity of species known to be on site and the use of historic records with no recognition that the species are still in the area, just not reported on a daily basis to the Biological Recorder makes it almost impossible to know what the impact will be. Is it really a good idea to put wind turbines on a site that for 20 years has been developed for wildlife through public funding?
I also recognise that this isn't a designated site, but neither is Haddo, which is known to overwinter significant quantities of geese and ducks each year.
There is at least one Barn Owl roost within 600m of the site. We haven't established the roost of the Short Eared Owl, but he routinely hunts on my field (within 500m of the turbines), There are apparently 4 known Osprey nests (there are likely to be others but due to the concerns over nest raids most people keep the sites quiet). The known ones are approximately 2.5km, 4.8km, 4.8km and 7km (in different directions). There could be a nest at Den Wood which borders Tullo, or even within the Tullo boundaries given the lakes there, but we have not yet confirmed this due to issues with access and time constraints on visiting sites.
Several buzzards are frequently to be seen in the trees at the edge of my land; I don't know if that indicates they are nesting there or just semi-permanently sitting in the trees. The swans and some other birds (sandmartins for instance) have been encouraged to Tullo to nest as a result of the grants (a Google search will likely bring up some of the reports of successes in this area).
I don't know what you consider a significant population of geese... this winter has been unusual in that we don't seem to have so many as normal; probably down to the crop rotation, but normally there are hundreds if not thousands on the fields in the near vicinity (within 1 − 1.5km of the turbines but not all on land belonging to the applicant).
If the avoidance rate is 99% then the "strike rate" if you'll excuse the phrase is 1%. I'm guessing that is per turbine. Given that I've indicated above that from my front windows I can see 24 with a further 9 already approved... that means 33 turbines...which would equate to 33% of our birds being lost based on the turbines I CAN SEE. If you factor in the ones at the back and side of my property... can that be classed as sustainable for the regional or local population?
I'm not looking for objections based on emotive grounds, I'm looking for high quality decision making information that tells us what the impact will actually be in order that a rational decision can be taken on whether the impact is acceptable or not. In other words, documentation that is complete, accurate, valid, reliable and timely. This should be prepared by a professionally qualified individual such as a Chartered Environmentalist not merely a member of staff of the developer with a financial interest in obtaining the consent.
My request for objections, is based on the complete lack of a requirement for an EIA, on what is considered by locals to be a sensitive site following 20 years of public subsidy.
I would therefore request that RSPB and/or others concerned about the environment, birds and other wildlife on site, object to the lack of a reliable Environmental Impact Assessment that has been prepared by a Chartered Environmentalist. We will have to live with the consequences of this development for at least 25 years - it's going to be too late in 2 − 5 years time to say "if only we'd objected we'd still have birds here".
I've just found this link www.birdforum.net/.../t-147663-p-4.html (search on Oldmeldrum).
It indicates that the geese that are usually in the fields next to the turbines (missing this year presumably due to crop rotation) moved just a few miles along the road to Cairnbrogie. This guy seems to know his stuff from some of his posts, and indicates that there were around 13000 pink footed geese there. This ties in with my original posting on huge numbers of geese.
So I did the calculations.
1% strike rate.
I can see 25 turbines with another 8 approved (yes the number has increased due to another one that I didn't know had received planning permission having been constructed since my original post). That makes 33 excluding the ones to the side and behind my property.
Likely fatalities 4,290 per annum. Now that makes you think, doesn't it?
I also found a report on Google entitled “Threatened species of owls disappear from Wolfe Island”. If this is indicative, I guess my daytime owl won't be around much longer either!
There are also multiple pictures of ospreys sitting on nacelles, and reports of their demise at several sites around the world following collisions with the blades.
The application is still open for objections until the 9th if anyone is willing to support my call for the applicant to be forced to use competent professionals to generate high quality information that can be used to determine whether or not this specific site is suitable for the proposed development.
I forgot to say, there are several designated wildlife sites within the 20km radius that are supposed to be disclosed in the application, the Ythan Estuary is just 1 of them... Loch Skene, is also at or close to that distance from the proposed site. The applicant hasn't identified either these or any others in the area!
I must say that I'm horrified by the numbers quoted in Winded's posts.
I must take exception to the RSPB comments:
We are increasingly concerned about the potential cumulative impact of
wind turbines in Aberdeenshire and we highlight this to the Council in
most of our responses to planning applications. We also recommend that
post-construction cumulative impact monitoring is undertaken in order to
better inform future responses.
This seems to be fast becoming a standard comment for most planning applications for wind turbines in Aberdeenshire.
When will the RSPB realise that concillors will totally ignore this comment. Many councillors in Aberdeenshire are farmers, who either have wind turbines themselves, or are hoping to erect turbines in the future. One councillor has had to remove herself from discussing wind turbine applications because she is now working for a renewable energy company promoting numerous turbines in the area.
Most district councils have approval rates of over 70%, with some at 100%!!!
The biggest problem we, in Aberdeenshire, are facing is the sheer number of turbines in the area. Visitors to www.cawt.co.uk can see the high concentration of turbines on the map.
Let's face it, if councillors can ignore MOD oblections, based on NATIONAL SECURITY ( not just Aberdeenshire) then what hope does the woolly response from the RSPB above have?
Wind turbines are not efficient or reliable. Germany has recently experienced severe problems relying on wind turbines, almost destabilising power grids within Germany and surrounding countries. The only reason for the huge numbers of wind turbines being erected is sheer greed for financial gain on behalf of the developers, which is costing everyone in the country through increased electricity bills to fund the subsidies paid to developers for generating, and in some corcumstances NOT generating electicity.
The "cumulative" impact is no longer in doubt. The number of turbines in a relatively small area, with concentrations of protected birdlife and regular migratory visitors must be recognised now, before Aberdeenshire becomes one large windfar,
I forgot to say that I am puzzled by the RSPB funding of the POSS report, which extols the continued erection of wind turbines while giving absolutely no informantion on the loss of bird life.
Any references to the death toll from wind turbines also seems to be totally lacking from the RSPB website.
Please excuse the poor spelling in my posts above as I am using a very small keyboard and am typing in a hurry!
Thanks for your support Waldsenders!
I can't guarantee the accuracy of my figures, I'm only working on the 1% strike rate quoted in the guidance and the 13k geese reported in the other discussion forum; and that's only taking account of one species... However, looking on the bright side, I guess no one in the area will be short of Christmas dinner, providing they don't mind it being carved before it's cooked!
RSPB aren't the only body that are making generic statements on "we think there are a lot of them and someone should consider some things in relation to them"... The questions are "who" should consider "what" and "what pressure is being put on them to do so by organisations such as RSPB"?
I've been copied on objections from 3 "long term fully paid up members of the RSPB" so far. I've had to let them know that the RSPB did not support an objection. They are now re-considering their membership renewal, which is sad... I'd encourage the members to lobby for stronger representation rather than walking away, but it's a personal choice in the end.
I'm disappointed by the post construction monitoring statement too. "Let's all go out and watch our birds being shredded and count the feathers as they fall"...
If my understanding of the current situation is correct, the Councillor to whom you refer is only absent from the meetings in which her company is the applicant, but is still voting on other turbine applications (please correct me if I'm misinformed on this; I'm only working on the basis of the voting figures on the CAWT website). I also understand that the Councillor with personal financial interests in turbines, is still voting on all except those he owns.
You're correct that Councillors voted to pass turbines which the Ministry of Defence objected to on the grounds of national safety; I think the press quote was that one Councillor stated he hadn't seen an RAF plane pass his house in over a decade and therefore didn't see the risk. Apparently no consideration has been given to the change of radar responsibility once Leuchars closes and Buchan takes over.
There were also turbines passed that the Council's Environmental Health officers objected to on the grounds of noise, but apparently the applicant with no acoustic credentials reassured Councillors that it wouldn't be a problem - is it any wonder 1/3 of operational turbines in Aberdeenshire are currently subject to noise complaints if the Councillors take the word of someone with a financial interest in obtaining permission, over that of an expert?
And of course there were the turbines that both the airport and air traffic control objected to on the grounds of passenger aircraft safety... as a frequent flyer, I fear that I may also share the fate of the geese!
I challenged the frequency of power outages recently in my area, and was reassured that they were "bird strikes on the lines". Interestingly about 20 years ago we had these kind of outages (due to wind), then the lines were upgraded and for the past 12 − 15 years we've only had the odd blackout (usually either a bull or a car taking out a pole). I'm curious as to why, all of a sudden we should have massive numbers of bird strikes on the lines... and whether in fact this is really the cause of the outages, or if (as I think is more likely given the weather conditions when they've been happening), it's actually grid overload from the turbines taking off as the wind rises! This links much more closely with your comments on Germany than perhaps our National Grid would like to admit!
I'm guessing from your knowledge of the issues, you're based in Aberdeenshire. I hope to see you at the protests at Woodhill House in Aberdeen on 27th February to coincide with the Councillors closed door meeting on turbines (details will be published on the CAWT website soon I think); and at Inverness on 3 March.
My extensive objection to the turbines that started this thread, has not yet been loaded to the Council website, but it has been circulated to the Councillors, MPs, MSPs, MEPs and press.
If anyone is bored with "War and Peace" and wants to know more about why wind turbines are not the green solution to global warming, they may want to read it and dig in to some of the cited references (once it is, eventually loaded to the website). I can't blame the Council officers, they have over 400 live turbine applications in process at the moment!