Just a couple of weeks ago permission was granted by the Scottish Government for 3 huge off-shore windfarms to be built off the Fife and Angus coast in the North Sea. A maximum total of nearly 450 turbines are planned in 3 different windfarms named Seagreen, Neart na Gaothe and Inch Cape.
These windfarms haven’t been granted permission just on a whim. Over the last couple of years a team of SNH colleagues have been working to provide Scottish government with advice on what impacts these proposals might have on the wildlife and landscape of the area. It was SNH’s conclusion that the turbines may cause the following adverse impacts:
– collision between flying birds and turbines,
– birds maybe displaced from their feeding areas by the presence of the windfarms,
– birds flying to distant feeding areas will have to make big diversions to go around the windfarms.
The Isle of May birds thought most likely to be affected are puffins and kittiwakes while the Bass rock gannets may also be affected.
SNH also advised that the windfarms would make a big impact on the offshore landscape from Montrose to Dunbar.
The Scottish ministers, in making the decision, took into account a whole range of other factors (including climate change and the need for greener energy) and decided to give permission for the windfarms despite the possible impacts on these seabirds
With the windfarms going ahead this is where the Isle of May and its years of monitoring, research and knowledge of the seabird populations, becomes of great value. With climate change already affecting the islands birds, it is complicated situation where a measure that might help alleviate climate change a little also might have a detrimental affect on the birds. So it does seem that whatever happens puffins, kittiwakes and gannets are likely to have a tough time. But it does becomes essential for resources to be put into finding out what actual effect the windfarms have on the kittiwakes, puffins and gannets that we see everyday. so that this knowledge might be used to reduces windfarm impacts elsewhere.