E.ON Climate and Renewables proposes to build and operate an onshore wind farm at Loch Urr, near Moniaive, Dumfries & Galloway. Initial constraints mapping has concluded that the site has the capacity to support in excess of 50 turbines, as well as a substation and ancillary infrastructure. The site covers in excess of 25km2.
BSG Ecology’s role in the project
BSG Ecology’s role to date has been to scope and deliver the baseline ornithological and ecological surveys necessary to inform a robust Environmental Impact Assessment for the site. Preliminary assessment work has involved mapping the habitats present, particularly deep peat areas that offer potential for restoration to blanket bog and to wet heath following partial afforestation and over- grazing. This is in line with EON’s aspirations to deliver a scheme that maximises biodiversity gain. The output of this preliminary assessment helped to focus the scope of expensive geotechnical surveys.
Bird survey work undertaken
Two years of detailed bird surveys conducted in accordance with Scottish Natural Heritage Guidance have been undertaken: the first year of work was used to characterise the site; the second to focus in on specific issues. In addition to year-round vantage-point work, point counts, and black grouse, raptor, wader and wildfowl surveys, there was a need to account for potential impacts on a large black-headed gull colony situated on an island in the on-site loch, and this has required the development of a bespoke flight line recording methodology.
Protected species assessments
Protected species survey work has included applying the Bat Conservation Trust guidance for onshore wind farms appropriately to assess the importance of the site for bats, and consideration of the potential effects of development on other species including badger and red squirrel.
Consultation and Scoping
We have established an excellent working relationship with key consultees on this project, specifically, Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB. This has led to data sharing, open discussion of the issues, agreement of survey methodologies, input to the formulation of a bespoke approach to collision risk analysis with regard to the gull colony and fruitful discussions with regard to habitat management initiatives.