Kirkan Wind Farm, Highlands
The proposed Kirkan Wind Farm is a joint project for Coriolis Energy and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), and comprises a 17-turbine scheme located within the Straithvaich Estate, approximately 6km north of Garve, Highlands.
Avian Ecology provided lead ecological and ornithological expertise as part of a multi-disciplinary project team, commencing in 2016 with the scoping and completion of baseline surveys, through to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and planning submission in April 2019.
The proposal site supports extensive areas of Habitats Directive Annex 1 European wet heath, active raised bog and blanket bog habitats. The presence of water voles was recorded extensively throughout watercourses within and intersecting the Site, with the presence of pine marten and otter similarly established during protected species surveys.
The open moorland habitats within the proposal site were also found to support an important population of breeding black grouse, with breeding golden eagle and red-throated diver also identified within the wider surrounding area.
Avian Ecology adopted a pro-active approach to consultee liaison over the course of the baseline information gathering and assessment. This ensured that potential ecological and ornithological concerns for key statutory and non-statutory bodies from the proposal, were robustly and transparently addressed and a sensitive scheme design progressed.
The EIA considered in detail the potential for impacts to sensitive moorland habitats, bats, avian collision mortality risks, fisheries, protected mammals and disturbance to breeding birds, both as a result of the proposal alone and in-combination with the adjacent Corriemoillie and Lochluichart schemes. Avian Ecology also supported the application with a deer assessment, to ensure consideration of deer welfare, highway safety and the potential for implications of deer displacement on adjacent lands.
Avian Ecology’s approach to the early identification of scheme design constraints allowed the delivery of a viable scheme design and which avoided the requirement for extensive habitat and species mitigation and compensation proposals.
The scope to deliver opportunities for habitat and species enhancement was also similarly investigated in consultation with key consultees, and which ensured proposals were appropriate to the nature and location of the proposal and complemented regional conservation efforts. Avian Ecology subsequently detailed and delivered a site-specific habitat management plan to support the planning application and which will promote moorland habitat enhancement, fish habitat creation, opportunities for black grouse and water vole protection within the proposal site and wider estate.
A planning decision for the proposed Kirkan Wind Farm is still pending however, the scheme has received no objections on ecological or ornithological grounds from key statutory consultees including NatureScot.