Securing Strathy South

27.07.18

Consent for Strathy South Wind Farm, north Scotland, has been a long time coming, but this major renewable energy project recently got the green light from Ministers, with RPS helping secure its success.

RPS has been the lead adviser on all ornithology and ecology aspects for the application. The Strathy South site in Sutherland is surrounded by designated sites (SPA, SAC and RAMSAR) protecting blanket bogs and bird species, so the application naturally came under scrutiny and was eventually considered at Public Inquiry.

Key species identified in the environmental research include hen harriers, greenshanks, red-throated divers, wood sandpipers, black-throated divers, golden eagles, golden plovers and dunlins.

‘The Reporter consistently highlighted the value of evidence provided by the RPS team, and the degree to which he was persuaded by it’ says Dr. Simon Zisman, RPS Director of Ecology in Scotland. ‘I'm extremely proud to have led this work and to have contributed to this positive outcome for SSE, overcoming the sustained objections from SNH and RSPB. The outcome of the Inquiry, and the Reporter's comments clearly reflect the high quality of RPS' fieldwork, analysis, assessment and mitigation design.’

The site is 12km from the village of Strathy, adjacent to SSE’s operational Strathy North project which enjoys public support locally. Despite being geographically within the Flow Country that has been considered for UNESCO World Heritage listing, the project location sits entirely within a degraded area of inappropriately planted sitka forestry which has caused significant damage to the peatland over the last 40 years. An independent public inquiry in 2015 concluded with a recommendation to approve the project. Once built, the farm will generate up to 133MW of power.

As a part of the succesful consent, the project includes proposal for:

  • The managed restoration of degraded peatland within and beyond the project site totalling around 32 sq. km.
  • Five-year restoration program of deforested areas independently monitored by the Environmental Reseach Institute.
  • Removal of 11 sq. km. of non-native commercial forestry on natural peatland habitat affecting peatland condition and local ecosystems.

This positive result at Strathy comes on top of many other successful wind farm consents RPS has helped to achieve for its clients.

Endnotes:
Consent was granted for the 39 turbine wind farm on 27 April 2018.