Glendye Windfarm

Tagged with: Casework status: Open Casework type: Construction Casework type: Energy Habitats: Upland

Overview

This is a long running proposal which RSPB Scotland first engaged with in 2012.

Coriolis Energy Ltd submitted an application for a 26 turbine wind farm, each just under 150m in height, in 2018. The site lies in the south-west of Aberdeenshire, near the Angus Council boundary and is located on the Glendye Estate.

We raised an objection to the application in 2019 due to the lack of information to allow the proper assessment of impacts on birds, such as golden eagle and white-tailed eagle. We also raised concerns over impacts on peat, which would be damaged and removed during construction.

New information was submitted by the applicant in 2020. This showed that the windfarm would be likely cause the deaths of a high number of birds due to collisions, when birds fly into moving blades. Having considered this new information, we have maintained our objection due to the high collision risk for red kite, white-tailed eagle and golden eagle. We also think that the applicant has not properly considered the effects that the loss of these individual birds could have on the species populations.

More information was submitted in July 2021, which included modelling of the likely impacts on golden eagle and white-tailed populations and assessment of the suitability of the site for golden eagles ranges. We have maintained our objection.

The applicant’s collision risk modelling predicts the windfarm would kill around 39 red kites, 23 golden eagles and 10 white-tailed eagles over its 30 year lifetime. From their population modelling, we have calculated that this would result in the regional population of golden eagle being 8-15% lower than it would be in the absence of the windfarm and the local white-tailed eagle population being 25% lower.

RSPB Scotland supports the development of renewable energy, which is needed as part of the move to net-zero, and the urgent need to tackle climate change. But windfarms must be carefully located and designed. This is not a good location for a windfarm, and renewable energy targets can be achieved using alternative sites.

Map

Why is it worth fighting for?

The applicant’s own environmental assessment predicted that the windfarm could result in the death of a large number of iconic and protected birds of prey. The position, layout, number and size of turbines means that birds are at high risk of flying into the moving blades, resulting in death. Over the 30 year lifespan of the proposed windfarm it is predicted to kill around 39 red kites, 23 golden eagles and 10 white-tailed eagles. This is an estimate, based on the number of birds that have been seen flying in the area, how capable the bird species are at avoiding the blades and the size and location of the turbines.

Both white-tailed eagle and red kite are species reintroduced into Scotland in the last 40 years, programmes which RSPB Scotland has led on. The increase in their numbers has been a great conservation success story, but this proposal would have a significant impact on their populations. Golden eagles are doing relatively well and increasing across Scotland. However, this is not the case within the Eastern Highlands where the currently proposed windfarm would be located, with illegal persecution the main reason why numbers are lower then they should be. White-tailed eagle, golden eagle and red kite are all listed in Annex 1 of the European Birds Directive.

It sadly remains the case that illegal persecution is the biggest single threat to these majestic birds of prey. However, windfarms must also be sited and designed to avoid the damaging impacts on nature where possible. The applicant has not changed the number or layout of turbines since the application was submitted in 2018 and continue to seek development on an area which is evidently very suitable and attractive to protected birds of prey.

How you can help

You can write to the Energy Consents Unit (the Scottish Government department that deals with large windfarm applications) to let them know that the windfarm would have unacceptable impacts on golden eagle, white tailed eagle and red kite and this is not the right place to put a windfarm.

Remember to include the Project Name Glendye Windfarm and case reference ECU00000676 in your email or letter and then send it to: Econsents_Admin@gov.scot

or

Energy Consents Unit
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
Glasgow
G2 8LU

Our position

We are facing a climate and nature emergency, with huge losses of biodiversity in Scotland and worldwide. RSPB Scotland is supportive of renewable energy development to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but windfarms must be carefully located to avoid unacceptable impacts on wildlife. We need action to combat the climate and nature emergency in tandem. The current proposal would be at the unnecessary and avoidable expense of iconic bird species, including those recently reintroduced to Scotland.

We have objected due to the high numbers of birds that are predicted to be killed by the turbine blades. We also have concerns that the windfarm will be built on deep peat and that some of the survey work is flawed due to disturbance during fieldwork. The disturbance was caused by bird scaring techniques, such as ‘gas guns’ that were being used when survey’s were being carried out by the operators of the intensive grouse shooting estate.

RSPB Scotland carefully considers objecting to development and accept that the benefits of windfarms can outweigh small impacts on nature, if the developer can carry out measures to reduce these impacts and benefit nature elsewhere. This proposal is not on a site which is specially protected for nature and the eagles and kites in this area do not nest in such protected sites. However, they are all species which are recognised as at risk and listed in annex 1 of the Bird Directive. In this case, it is the very high number of predicted deaths to a three, long lived species that has meant we have objected. It is clearly not the right place for a windfarm, but has the potential to be a great place for golden eagle, white-tailed eagle and red kite.

In 2020 RSPB Scotland welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement proposing the introduction of measures to license grouse shooting as soon as possible. We hope that persecution will decline in the future and this area will see increases in eagles and kite. A windfarm on this site would mean that such natural increases would be severely restricted.

Golden eagle at nest

Timeline

  • September 2021
    RSPB Scotland maintains our objection to the windfarm
  • July 2021
    Additional Information on birds submitted by the applicant
  • March 2021
    RSPB and NatureScot provide advice on approach to new information applicant intends to submit
  • October 2020
    Additional information provided by the applicant. RSPB Scotland objects again due to collision risk for red kite, white-tailed eagle and golden eagle and lack of appropriate population analysis.
  • January 2019
    RSPB Scotland object and requested additional information, primarily in relation to golden eagle and white-tailed eagle, concerns over peat impacts also raised
  • October 2018
    Application submitted to Energy Consents Unit for 26 turbines
  • February 2016
    RSPB Scotland responded to consultation on EIA scoping request
  • 2012
    Initial pre-application consultation

Further Reading