Wind farms fall prey to demands of the golden eagle

Decision to set aside land to protect birds threatens renewable energy plans

Jonathan Brown
Wednesday 02 December 2009 01:00
Comments

A vast swath of northern and western Scotland could be set aside to give greater protection to one of the UK's most enigmatic birds of prey.

There are just over 40 breeding pairs of golden eagles left in Britain, all but one in Scotland, but plans for the establishment of a 350,000-hectare Special Protection Area designed to safeguard the future of the raptor has brought conservationists into conflict with the renewable energy industry.

A 14-turbine wind farm near Inverary in Argyll was turned down by the Scottish government in October.

Meanwhile, Scottish Natural Heritage will begin a three-month consultation on the SPA proposals in the new year.

Damian Aubrey, senior development manager of Wind Prospect, one of the partners in the Inverary project which has built wind farms across the world, warned the decision threatened to "sterilise" the development of renewable energy sources and thwart the Scottish government's ambitious plans to generate 50 per cent of its energy needs from green methods by 2020. He said: "There is very little evidence to show that birds are affected by wind turbines. It is very much a myth that has no scientific basis. Potentially this could sterilise against development huge swaths of the Scottish landscape, which would have serious implications for reaching renewable energy targets."

Announcing the six new proposed areas, the Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, said the future wellbeing of the golden eagle was finely balanced and needed protection. "While we have a duty to protect our biodiversity for future generations, this should not automatically mean that leisure and economic activity cannot take place in our countryside."

She added: "We must find a balance between access, conservation and development to ensure that all sectors can benefit from and enjoy the countryside."

There are currently eight Special Protection Areas for golden eagles in the peatlands and uplands of northern and western Scotland favoured by the birds.

However the species, which saw numbers decline dramatically in recent centuries due to persecution and agricultural poisoning, remains vulnerable and highly dependent on large undisturbed spaces to hunt.

The new proposed sites will include Glen Affric as well as Jura, Scarba and the Garvellachs off the west coast.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in