RSPB Forsinard Flows; view from visitor trail, including snow-capped Ben Griam, Highland, Scotland.  November 10, 2010.

Strathy Windfarms

These wind farms lie near Scotland’s north coast in the Flow Country, a vast expanse of peatland habitat of international importance for wildlife and carbon storage

About this site

These wind farm sites lie near Scotland’s extreme north coast in the Flow Country, a vast expanse of peatland habitat of international importance for wildlife and carbon storage.

In recognition of this, the site is being considered for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Around the 1980s extensive areas, including the three Strathy sites, were damaged by drainage and conifer planting which only stopped as the result of RSPB campaigning to remove the tax-breaks which encouraged this damaging land use.

David Douglas (Conservation Scientist) heads up a team looking into the effects of a wind farm on Golden plover Pluvialis apricaria, Sutherland, Scotland

What's at risk?

Much of the Flow Country has special designations to protect it from development, Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its outstanding wetland habitats and Special Protection Area (SPA) for its populations of rare breeding birds. 

These are: golden eagle, hen harrier, merlin, short-eared owl, golden plover, greenshank, wood sandpiper, dunlin, red-throated diver, black-throated diver, common scoter and wigeon. 

The SPA and SAC, which exclude areas with tree plantations, stretch almost 100kms from west to east and 65kms north to south, comprising 39 separate Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). These are our very best wildlife sites. 

A great deal of recent restoration work - tree removal and ditch blocking - has been encouraged by government policy and financial support. RSPB Scotland has been at the forefront of these efforts at our Forsinard Flows Reserve and we have given advice on appropriate techniques to other landowners.

Merlin male perched on moss covered vantage point

Our main concern

Although the Strathy windfarm proposals would result in tree removal, our particular concern is that turbines are likely to lead to bird collisions or displacement resulting in population reductions. Even if turbines are not replaced after the 25-year lifetime of a windfarm, their bases and windfarm tracks would adversely affect the blanket bog habitat.

Common or Eurasian crane Grus grus, flock flying close to wind turbine, Near Diepholz, Lower Saxony, Germany


Cases in this site

Red-throated diver, adult swimming, Shetland Isles

Strathy North

Scottish and Southern’s 33-turbine wind farm at Strathy North was consented although RSPB Scotland maintained objection.

Greenshank, Tringa nebularia. Brownsea Island Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve. Dorset, England

Strathy South

We objected to the 39-turbine windfarm and took part in a public inquiry but Scottish Ministers granted consent in 2018.


Strathy Wood

A wind farm likely to have a significant impact on protected birds & habitats has been consented by Scottish Ministers.