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In the May issue, Kenny Taylor reported on plans to build a massive wind farm in Scotland’s Moray Firth. Read his article below.
WIND PROPOSAL SCRUTINISED
Moray firth scheme may be fine for dolphins, but could threaten seabirds.
Plans for the world’s third-largest offshore wind-power scheme in Scotland’s Moray Firth could ultimately benefit the region’s bottlenose dolphins, according to a leading cetacean expert.
There are some concerns about the effect of building 326 wind turbines in the firth, mainly as a result of the disturbance caused during construction. But Dr Paul Thompson of the University of Aberdeen said that the impacts had been carefully considered.
He explained: “For dolphins, the scheme’s Environmental Impact Assessment is probably the most detailed ever carried out in UK waters. Though we may see short-term changes in marine mammal behaviour during construction work, there could be longer-term benefits for fish stocks.”
With the Government recently signalling its intent to increase offshore wind capacity, the impact this could have on marine wildlife is coming under the microscope.
For instance, harbour seals can sustain traumatic hearing injuries or be killed by the noises made during piledriving work. Alternatively these activities can cause them to avoid favourite feeding grounds. Dolphins are likely to suffer in similar ways.
Bird conservationists are more concerned by the scheme, which has the capacity to power one million homes. The RSPB warned that it could adversely affect breeding seabirds from nearby East Caithness Cliffs.
RSPB Scotland’s Peter Gordon said that his organisation had suggested that a smaller scheme could be given consent and then studied until the impact on birds was clear.
Some 300,000 seabirds breed at Caithness, including tens of thousands of guillemots and smaller numbers of razorbills, kittiwakes and puffins – all birds whose populations have been declining in recent years.