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RSPB “seriously alarmed” about wind farm extension’s impact on golden eagles

23 May 2012

Alan Tissiman
Communications Manager
E-mail: alan.tissiman@rspb.org.uk

RSPB Scotland has reacted with alarm to proposals by wind farm developer Uisinis Power that could lead to the erection of an extra 30 wind turbines on the Eisgein estate on the Isle of Lewis.  

RSPB spokesman Stuart Benn said: “We are seriously alarmed. This could have a devastating impact on what is one of Europe’s best sites for golden eagles. 

“Although not yet built, consent has already been granted for 39 wind turbines which we strongly opposed. This extension would make things even worse.” 

Mr Benn attacked the quality of the bird information that was used before the existing consent was issued. “We believe the bird survey techniques were inadequate and the results underestimated the importance of the site. This contributed to the very unfortunate decision  to grant the existing consent. We are frankly amazed that the developer should want yet more turbines on this site.” 

Mr Benn highlighted the importance of the area: “This area supports one of the highest densities of golden eagles in the world and is increasingly important for white-tailed eagles. We know that placing wind farms in the wrong place can be hugely damaging with many bird casualties. In one instance in Norway there have been many collisions of white-tailed eagles and the local population has been very badly affected.  Are we really prepared to allow something similar to happen here?” 

Mr Benn further explained: “This area supports around a dozen breeding pairs of golden eagles which produce a good number of chicks every year.  The area also forms the nucleus of the recent expansion of white-tailed eagles in the Western Isles, following similar increases on Mull and Skye.  Satellite-tagged eagles of both eagle species have been shown to use the area to forage over prolonged periods. 

“We believe that siting yet more turbines in this area risks a serious long-term impact on the populations of our largest and most magnificent birds of prey. This proposal should be stopped in its tracks.”

Notes

1)     Uisinis Power submitted a request to Scottish Ministers for a Scoping Opinion for the Muaitheabhal Windfarm South Extension, on the Eisgein Estate on the Isle of Lewis, earlier this month.  This would add up to 30 wind turbines to the existing consent for 39 turbines.  A scoping opinion request is effectively the first formal part of the application process to build a windfarm.

2)       The RSPB supports the appropriate development of renewable energy, including windfarms, as an essential part of efforts to tackle climate change, which is a major threat to birds and wildlife in Scotland and across the world. 

3)     The vast majority of windfarms do not pose any significant threat to birds.   Between 2001 and 2010, RSPB engaged in 2,174 windfarm applications across the UK but sustained objections to just 182.