Wings Law

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Casework type: Energy Site designations: SPA
Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, female in flight against blue sky, Geltsdale, Cumbria

Overview

We are concerned about a proposal for a windfarm in North Ayrshire close to a Special Protected Area designated for hen harriers, a UK species of the highest conservation priority.

An application for a 24-turbine wind farm, known as Wings Law, at Ladyland Moor in North Ayrshire was submitted by Wind Hydrogen Limited in August 2007.

The site is close to the boundary of the Renfewshire Heights Special Protected Area (SPA), designated under the EU Birds Directive for hen harrier. We are concerned about the potential for disturbance and displacement of this species.

The application was refused by North Ayrshire Council and was subsequently appealed by the developers. A public inquiry was due to be held in early 2011 to consider a number of matters but the appellants withdrew the appeal in December 2010, to allow more time to resolve aviation objections.

Map

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult female perched on heather at Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve, Islay

Why is it worth fighting for?

The proposed windfarm is to be located close to an SPA for hen harrier designated under the EU Birds Directive. We are concerned about the potential for disturbance and displacement of hen harrier, with recent research having shown a reduction in breeding density and frequency of occurrence of hen harriers up to 500m from operational turbines.

Hen harrier are listed on Annex 1 of the EU Birds Directive and therefore required to be subject to 'special conservation measures'. Hen harrier are also on the 'red list' which are species of the highest conservation priority in the UK needing urgent action.

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A view of the loch at Abernethy

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Boulfruich Wind Farm, Houstry, Morven and / or Maiden Pap in the background, Caithness, Highland, Scotland

Our position

We initially objected to the application due to the lack of ornithological information.

When further information became available, we had concerns over the potential for disturbance and displacement of hen harrier, with recent research having shown a reduction in breeding density and frequency of occurrence of hen harriers up to 500m from operational turbines.

In our last response, we withdrew our objection subject to a number of conditions including the requirement that no infrastructure is built within 500m of the SPA boundary and that a revised habitat management plan was submitted, both of which the developer agreed to. We were also successful in securing a commitment to post-construction monitoring of the site.

Outcome

The application was refused by North Ayrshire Council and was subsequently appealed by the developers. A public inquiry was due to be held in early 2011 to consider a number of matters but the appellants withdrew the appeal in December 2010, to allow more time to resolve aviation objections.

Timeline

  • December 2010/January 2011
    A public inquiry was due to be held to consider a range of issues however the developers withdraw the appeal to allow more time to resolve aviation objections
  • September 2010
    Further Environmental Information (FEI) provided by the appellant, providing sufficient ornithological information. we withdraw objection subject to a number of conditions
  • February 2009
    The application was refused by North Ayrshire Council and was subsequently appealed by the developers
  • September 2008
    We objected to original planning application due to lack of ornithological and environmental information

Key birds affected