The Scottish Government is pushing ahead with ambitious and large commercial scale offshore wind farms, granting consent for eight such projects in 2014.
This scale of development is unprecedented in Scottish waters and our internationally important seabird colonies are at risk of adverse impacts from collisions with turbines or through birds losing important feeding and moulting areas through increased disturbance from wind farm construction and operation.
We are trying to ensure the cumulative or in-combination impacts of all this consented and any future offshore wind projects on seabirds and other wildlife are adequately acknowledged and understood in the decision-making process.
From our own analysis and that of the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies it is apparent that the environmental carrying capacity is already exceeded and protected areas, such as Fowlsheugh Special Protection Area, will see significant reductions in its protected kittiwake population as a direct result of offshore wind farm impacts. This population has seen dramatic declines across Scotland, up to 72 per cent loss since 1986, a decline that is reflected in the Fowlsheugh kittiwake numbers. Scottish Ministers must take account of these issues before making decisions on any further offshore wind.
Floating wind has great potential for harnessing the wind resource across deeper waters and these test projects are crucial for the industry to prove its capabilities. It is unfortunate that Scottish Ministers have created a situation whereby the environmental risks are now too great and projects such as Hywind are left high and dry due to issues that are out of their control.