Turbine impact

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With reference to your ­report on the Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo offshore wind farm projects (“RSPB lodges legal ­challenge against wind farms”, 13 January), I question the assertion by Scottish Renewables that the proposals have been through a rigorous assessment.

While the National Trust for Scotland accepts the need to ­reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and to replace some of this with sustainable, renewable energy, we need to ensure this is not at the expense of valued features of Scotland’s environment.

The official process intended to ensure this is the Appropriate Assessment carried out by Marine Scotland (scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0046/00460542.pdf_).

In this instance, assessment was carried out on the impact of the proposed turbines on a number of internationally important ­seabird colonies in the region, ­including Fowlsheugh, Isle of May and St Abbs National Nature Reserves, the Bass Rock and other islands in the Firth of Forth.

The conclusions were shocking: each year the proposed wind farms are predicted to kill 1,169 gannets, 424 kittiwakes and 1,251 puffins.

The assessment also shows that over 25 years this rate of attrition will reduce the breeding populations of these three species in the nearby Forth Islands by 21 per cent, 24 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

Not surprisingly, the government’s nature conservation ­adviser, Scottish Natural Heritage, concluded that these losses were unacceptable, as would most ­rational human beings.

However, by some obfuscating process of mental agility, Marine Scotland has attempted to argue, through deep layers of bureaucratic jargon, that this level of slaughter is acceptable.

Many people in Scotland would not agree, nor would the European Commission, which is charged with overseeing European conservation measures.

Ironically, the kittiwake is the one seabird that is likely to ­suffer most from effects of climate change, and so it has the most to gain from the long-term effects of converting more of our power generation to wind ­turbines. However, this gain is going to be of little use to the thousands of birds annihilated by those ­turbines.

If we are to reap the rewards of clean energy we need to be ­assured that its adverse impacts are mitigated and that the ­government is prepared to listen to the nature conservation advisers that it has commissioned and paid for. RSPB Scotland are to be applauded for highlighting this serious issue.

Richard Luxmoore

The National Trust for Scotland