RSPB Scotland ‘desperately disappointed’ at Scot-Govt thumbs-up for Strathy South windfarm approval

Sutherland residents voice their views on the SSE Strathy South wind farm development
Sutherland residents voice their views on the SSE Strathy South wind farm development

Pearth-based Scottish utility SSE has secured Scot-Govt approval for a new 133-MW wind farm at Strathy South in Sutherland.

Scottish ministers gave the 39-turbine project in the Highlands the all-clear following a public inquiry held in 2015 – despite objections by the Scottish Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and other conservation groups.

The controversial decision follows an independent public inquiry held more than three years ago, which examined in detail all of the evidence put forward by all parties, before recommending approval for the project.

It is located  in a sensitive area of the Flow Country  which has been degraded by commercial forestry after much-criticised and now-defunct UK tax avoidance schemes adopted by wealthy celebrities such as the late Sir Terry Wogan, the entertainer.

But wind turbine-blade tips have been set at 135 metres and electricity generation hardware of around 3.4MW is expected built by German manufacturers.

Officials had recommended approval of the wind farm some 12km south of Strathy village in Sutherland. Conditions include a peat restoration plan. 

In response to Strathy South windfarm being granted approval by Scottish Ministers today an RSPB Scotland spokeman said: “The Scot-Govt approval today of the Strathy South windfarm is desperately disappointing.

“Strathy South is right in the very heart of the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area and Ramsar site, a European and internationally important place for wildlife.

“The decision to approve a windfarm in this extremely sensitive location sits very awkwardly with Scottish Ministers commitments to maintain the highest international environmental standards.

“RSPB Scotland will be looking very closely at this decision over the coming days before we decide what further action might may be possible to help protect this very special place.

“Windfarms are a vital part of the fight against climate change – which is harming wildlife in Scotland and across the world – but it is just simple common sense that they must be sited away from our most important wildlife sites. 

A spokesman for Strathy and Armadale Community Council welcomed the decision.

Meanwhile, Scot-Govt ministers have refused Muirhall Energy plans for its 68-MW Caplich wind farm near Lairg, Sutherland. Concerns included impacts on visual amenity, landscapes and wild lands.

30 Apr 2018

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