04 May 10| 0 Comments
Susan writes: The Matlock Moor wind farm site is interesting to us not only because the site is only a few miles from our office but also because renewable energy is a key business area for Baker Consultants.
What the inspectors report reveals serves as a warning to developers who might not see the value of often time-consuming and detailed survey.
There were several reasons for the refusal, some of which include ecology (pages 11 to 14 of the report attached below).
The site is 3km from the boundary of South Pennine Moors SPA (Special Protection Area). Birds listed in the citation are also believed to use the Matlock Moor site for foraging or breeding.
The inspector felt that insufficient survey for birds was undertaken, in terms of the amount of effort (i.e. too few hours on site for some species) and the area covered, for example the survey area should have extended up to 2km radius around the site.
The inspector listed five key species (from 80 recorded) as representative for the site, three of which are listed in Annex 1 of the Birds Directive, one on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and a further species, lapwing, which is not listed in the legislation, but is red listed on the Birds of Conservation Concern list. It is not clear from the report if any of the other 75 bird species recorded, are listed in legislation, the SPA citation or the BoCC list and if so, why these were not included in the key species selected.
The inspector felt that the collision risk model had been insufficiently applied for five key species. My guess is that because these species were infrequently recorded on site and possibly they were not seen to fly in the rotor sweep area, that under the strict application of collision risk modelling they would not necessarily be included.- The inspector implied that just because these species were infrequently recorded during survey it could not be said that they were infrequently using the site, she accepted evidence from local birders that they were more common than the evidence presented (using the standard guidance) suggested.
The inspector believed that the consultation was insufficient and should have included data retrieval and advice from the local Wildlife Trust, ornithological societies and raptor groups.
Implications for our clients and all developers that should be noted are: Pay special attention to protected sites in the area of the proposed wind farm, don't scrimp on the hours, include survey way beyond the boundary of the site, put a lot more effort in to consultations and start the whole process early. Just following the guidelines is not necessarily enough.
Add your comments to the blog below, or contact one of the team to undertake a windfarm ecology site assessment.