Strathy North

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Casework type: Energy Megasites: Strathy Site designations: Ramsar site Site designations: SAC Site designations: SSSI
Red-throated diver, adult swimming, Shetland Isles


Scottish and Southern’s (SSE’s) 33-turbine wind farm at Strathy North was consented although RSPB Scotland maintained its objection and construction has begun on this site. SSE has also applied to the Scottish Government for consent for a 47-turbine wind farm at nearby Strathy South.

On top of our objections to both of these applications, we are currently objecting to an application by another developer, E.ON, for a third wind farm, Strathy Wood, between the two and immediately to the east.

All three proposals are sited within plantation forest of moderate age on blanket bog and have the potential to impact adversely on populations of several key breeding bird species.  


Why is it worth fighting for?

Species affected

We are concerned that the likelihood of adverse impacts on populations of red-throated diver, black-throated diver, golden eagle, hen harrier, merlin, greenshank, dunlin, golden plover and short-eared owl cannot be ruled out. These species are all qualifying features of the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area (SPA) which almost surrounds the site – by law, a high standard of certainty of an absence of adverse impacts is necessary before a development proposal can be consented.

Collision risk

Even with the proposed management, we think that collision risk to some of these species may have been underestimated, especially once the existing plantation forest has been felled and open habitats created. Whilst we welcome tree removal to restore high-priority blanket bog habitat, we remain opposed to management designed to create habitat unattractive to birds – we think this will be less effective than envisaged and may not offset likely losses through collision or displacement. It also represents a missed opportunity to provide significant biodiversity benefit. 

We are not opposed in principle to a wind farm at this site but considered that a substantial reduction in turbine number was necessary to make the development acceptable.

 Wind Farm on Slieve Rushen, Co, Fermanagh

Our position

Extensive coniferous plantations at Strathy, largely on blanket bog, have led to a reduction in the bird interest of the area as trees have grown and the canopy closed.

Loss of rare species

Rare, open-space birds have largely been replaced by common woodland species. However, habitats can and should be restored when trees are felled, either at crop maturation or prematurely, for conservation reasons.

Danger to birds

We objected to this development at Strathy North which will potentially lead to collisions of birds utilising the area and are likely to prevent recolonisation by open-space birds once trees are removed and bog habitat restored. 

We are concerned that similar proposals at Strathy South will be even more damaging and have objected. We await submission of an application at Strathy Wood and will consider carefully its environmental implications before responding.


  • November 2011
    Scottish Government consents 33 turbines
  • March 2007
    We object to the original 35-turbine application
  • April 2004
    We express serious concerns in scoping response.


Help stop further damage to Strathy wildlife

Despite RSPB objection, this proposal has now been consented and construction has started. We will continue to monitor whether the developer is adhering to planning conditions designed to minimise environmental damage.

The more damaging proposal at nearby Strathy South is yet to be determined. See our Strathy South casework page for what you can do to help prevent it.