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RSPB Scotland extremely concerned by consent for offshore windfarms

Last modified: 10 October 2014

Offshore wind farm

Badly-sited windfarms can pose a threat to birds

Image: Vattenfall (Creative Commons)

RSPB Scotland has expressed major concerns about the granting of consent for four offshore windfarms in the Firth of Forth by Scottish Ministers today. 

The developments threaten Scotland's internationally important marine wildlife and in particular large colonies of gannets, kittiwakes, puffins and razorbills that breed along the coast and forage for food in the surrounding seas.

The Firth of Forth supports fantastic seabird populations of European importance such as the impressive 110,000-strong Bass Rock gannet colony off the coast of North Berwick, kittiwakes and puffins breeding on the Isle of May, and the Fowlsheugh Special Protection Area which is also an RSPB nature reserve. Declines of species at these sites seem inevitable.

Nowhere in Europe have offshore wind schemes been proposed in such close proximity to seabird colonies of this size. There is therefore great uncertainty over the predicted impacts of collisions of seabirds with turbines and displacement from important foraging grounds at sea. 

Latest estimates suggest that well over 1,000 gannets and hundreds of kittiwakes could be killed each summer

Latest estimates suggest that well over 1,000 gannets and hundreds of kittiwakes could be killed each year during the summer months alone, and many hundreds of puffins could die as a result of losing important feeding areas. Countless other birds also pass through the area on migration, and these developments will undoubtedly impact them. 

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: 'The Scottish Government has done a good job of steering onshore windfarms away from the most damaging places for birds. So, having repeatedly raised our concerns about these offshore windfarms, it is extremely disappointing that they have decided to approve developments which put so many thousands of Scotland's seabirds at risk. 

'If the models and assessments of potential damage prove accurate, these windfarms would be among the most deadly for birds anywhere in the world. 

'We want to see the development of offshore wind in Scotland but it must not be at such massive cost to our internationally important seabirds. We will be considering carefully what further steps we can take in the coming days to ensure these decisions are fully compliant with the requirements of EU conservation directives.'

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