Scotland’s country’s biggest nature conservation charity – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) – has formally objected to an application for a wind farm ‘at the heart of Scotland’s globally important Flow Country.’
The charity has described the proposal from SSE (which owns Scottish Hydro) for a wind turbine farm near Thurso as ‘one of the most worrying it has ever seen.’
The Flow Country is the name given to the peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland. As well as being one of the world’s rarest habitats and home to many bird species, it is also an important carbon store.
The application is for a 47 turbine wind farm in a non-native conifer plantation – one of the many planted on the Flows peatlands in the 1970s which were frequently financed by wealthy private investors under beneficial tax-avoidance schemes.
These plantations are now widely regarded as a policy mistake and are the subject of large-scale restoration work supported by many Government agencies and local groups.
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “This is one of the most worrying wind farm applications we have seen in Scotland. The bog and peatland habitat of the Flows is so special and rare that it is protected by law and is currently the subject of a multi-million pound funding bid by the Peatlands Partnership for restoration work.”
The Partnership, comprises RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Forestry Commission Scotland, Highland Council, Plantlife and the Highlands University. The Flow Country is also on the UK Tentative List for inscription as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Housden added: “Wind farms play a vital part in tackling climate change and SSE has shown it can be a responsible developer. But this proposal sticks out like a sore thumb in their current portfolio.
“That they would consider something like this, in such a vital home for nature is very disappointing. We hope SSE reconsiders its plans or that Scottish Ministers quickly reject this application.”