Mochrum Fell Wind Farm, Dumfries and Galloway
Avian Ecology, working on behalf of Falck Renewables Wind, has recently provided full ecological and ornithological support for the proposed Mochrum Fell Wind Farm, near the village of Corsock in Dumfries and Galloway, leading to the submission of a planning application in October 2020.
Our role was to determine the most effective approach to planning and then guide the client through the various ecological constraints so as to minimise any planning risk and deliver a successful application within a defined programme. The Avian team determined an appropriate and proportionate scope of field survey works, which was agreed with stakeholders at commencement. We then completed field surveys, produced all EIA Report documentation (including providing information to inform a Habitats Regulations Appraisal) and provided continual support to the client and wider project team.
Throughout the process we undertook detailed liaison with stakeholders, ensuring all parties were able to identify and address any concerns before submission. Avian Ecology instigated early consultation with NatureScot so as to ensure that the approach to ecology and ornithology surveys was appropriate. This included agreeing that one year of ornithology surveys was appropriate, combined with ‘top-up’ ecology surveys given the baseline information available from an earlier (2013) consented wind farm application. This pro-active approach to baseline gathering and consultation had considerable benefits for the client, substantially reducing the scope of field surveys without any risk to the planning process and therefore saving up to a year off the programme and minimising costs.
The Site is predominantly commercial plantation woodland and thus of low ecological value, but considerations that were required within the assessment process included ensuring there would not be significant negative impacts on great crested newts, areas of important bog habitats and notable bird species.
Dumfries and Galloway is a Scottish stronghold for red kites, and numbers of this Schedule 1 bird species in recent years have risen steadily in this region. Collision Risk Modelling (CRM) undertaken by Avian Ecology demonstrated negligible risks to the local kite population, and the species is expected to continue its expansion in the area.
Whilst significant effects on birds, habitats and protected species are not anticipated, the application was supported by mitigation and habitat enhancement measures. The Habitat Management Plan (HMP) is expected to benefit a host of wildlife, and will include native broad-leaved woodland planting and the creation of ponds.
Mochrum Fell Wind Farm is a strong example of our approach to complex projects, where the Avian team has worked with the client to ensure an efficient yet robust baseline approach to surveys and baseline gathering, positive engagement with consultees, provision of robust application documentation and through continual support. The end result is a project which delivers both the client’s commercial goals and clear biodiversity enhancements.