Spango Wind Farm

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Casework type: Energy Site designations: SPA Site designations: SSSI
Boulfruich Wind Farm, Houstry, Morven and / or Maiden Pap in the background, Caithness, Highland, Scotland

Overview

We welcomed the decision by councillors at Dumfries and Galloway Council to refuse the application at planning committee on 23 September (see our press release). The application was turned down because the wind farm would result in unacceptable adverse impacts on an internationally and nationally important wildlife site. The decision notice stated:

"The proposed wind farm would have an unacceptably adverse impact on the integrity of the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands SPA, and on the North Lowther Uplands SSSI, which are designated for breeding and non-breeding birds and upland habitats".

Success!

RSPB Scotland objected to the proposed Spango wind farm because of the importance of the site for wildlife.  

The proposed windfarm would have been sited within the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands Special Protection Area (SPA). SPAs are among the most highly protected sites. They form part of a network of internationally important sites that provide a safe haven for threatened habitats and species.

Any threats to the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands SPA are of significant conservation concern. The Spango wind farm proposal would put increased pressure on birds such as hen harriers, peregrines, short eared owl, golden plover and merlin which are already significantly under threat from issues such as habitat change and persecution. 

Map

Why is it worth fighting for?

The Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands Special Protection Area (SPA) is a special place for wildlife. It is an extensive area of moorland in south east Scotland. The variety of habitats and birds it supports is astonishing.  

The site is of international importance because of its populations of hen harrier, short-eared owl, merlin, peregrine and golden plover. In addition, birds present also include curlew, dunlin, raven, red grouse, redshank, snipe, teal, wheatear and whinchat.

Numbers of many of these bird species have declined rapidly due to threats such as habitat change and illegal persecution. The Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands SPA is currently classed as being in 'unfavourable' condition for hen harrier, merlin and peregrine. We need to do all we can to protect this special place and avoid any additional threats to these species.

Golden plover Pluvialis apricaria, standing on foreshore by clumps of seaweed, Hampshire

Our position

We believe climate change is one of the most significant threats facing the natural environment. As such, we support the deployment of renewable energy, but not where it will have a significant impact on protected wildlife. Where we have concerns, we seek to resolve those issues, but when our concerns cannot be resolved, we have to object to the proposals.

Unfortunately, the developers, Community Windpower Ltd, did not involve us in the early site selection. However, we got in touch with the developers to express our significant concerns about the site and urge them to consider alternative sites. .

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has also strongly advised Community Windpower against pursing an application on the site. As the statutory nature conservation body in Scotland, SNH is duty bound to ensure that internationally important wildlife sites are protected and managed favourably for conservation.

Application December 2013

Community Windpower Ltd submitted a planning application in December 2013. RSPB Scotland strongly objected the proposal. SNH, SEPA and a number of concerned local people also objected. In July 2014 Community Windpower Ltd decided to withdraw the planning application.

Application re-submission November 2014

In November 2014 Community Windpower Ltd re-submitted a planning application. As per the original application, 14 turbines were proposed. Some small changes were made to the layout (turbine 2 has been microsited 16 kilometres south and a construction compounds has been microsited 240 kilometres south east). The potential impacts on the SPA remained the same. 

RSPB maintained a strong objection to this proposal. The environmental information submitted by Community Windpower failed to demonstrate that there are no adverse effects on the integrity of the SPA. 

Outcome

We welcomed the decision by councillors at Dumfries and Galloway Council to refuse the application for Spango wind farm on 23 September 2015.

The application was turned down because the wind farm would result in unacceptable adverse impacts on an internationally and nationally important wildlife site.  

Timeline

  • 23 September 2015
    Application refused at planning committee
  • September 2015
    Decision to be made at planning committee
  • 5 January 2015
    Last date for comment on the Planning Application and Environmental Statement
  • December 2014
    Community Windpower Ltd resubmit the planning application
  • July 2014
    Community Windpower Ltd withdrew the planning application
  • May 2014
    RSPB object to the Planning Application and Ornithlogy Addendum
  • April 2014
    Ornithology Addendum submitted by Community Windpower Ltd
  • 28 February 2014
    Last date for comments on Planning Application
  • 19 December 2013
    Planning Application for Spango wind farm Submitted to Dumfries and Galloway Council
  • April 2013
    Scoping report - RSPB not consulted
  • March 2013
    Met mast application

Download

Letter outlining why the RSPB objects to this development. PDF, 2.1Mb.

RSPB response to the planning application (Dec 2014)