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Volume 4 Special Volume: Wind Farms on Peatland (2008-2010): Article 7
Spatial overlap of wind farms on peatland with sensitive areas for birds
by J.A. Bright, R.H.W. Langston, J.W. Pearce-Higgins, R. Bullman, R. Evans and S. Gardner
Published online: 09.11.2008
The UK Government has set stringent targets for renewable energy generation, prompting a substantial increase in proposals for wind farms, notably in the Scottish uplands which have a particularly high wind resource. These upland areas also support many bird species of conservation concern, leading to potential conflict. To help minimise this conflict, a map has been created indicating areas in Scotland where especially careful planning of wind farms will be necessary to avoid adverse impacts on vulnerable bird species. This map is based on the locations of statutorily protected Special Protection Areas, plus eighteen bird species of conservation priority. It is used here to assess the proportion of current and proposed wind farms on peatland, whether these coincide with mapped sensitive areas for birds, and which species are most likely to be affected. A high proportion of wind farms are on peatland (by stage in planning process: scoping 40%, application 38 %, approved 23%, installed 55%), although the area of peatland is only ca. 12% that of Scotland. Peatland also contains a high proportion of sensitive areas for birds. Of the 1 km squares from the sensitivity map whose centres fall within peatland, 52% are high sensitivity, 32% medium sensitivity and 17% low/unknown sensitivity. This compares with figures of 37%, 31% and 32% respectively for Scotland overall. Species on the map that are associated with peatland are red-throated diver, black-throated diver, common scoter, hen harrier and arctic skua. Of these, hen harrier is the species most likely to coincide with current and future wind farm developments, and cumulative effects of peatland wind farms on this species require assessment.
Bright, J.A., Langston, R.H.W., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Bullman, R., Evans, R. & Gardner, S. (2008): Spatial overlap of wind farms on peatland with sensitive areas for birds. Mires and Peat 4: Art. 7. (Online: http://www.mires-and-peat.net/pages/volumes/map04/map0407.php)
IMCG and IPS acknowledge the work of the reviewers.