An unsuitable site

Nicki Small, SSE project manager, raises “serious concerns” about RSPB Scotland’s claim that the proposed Strathy South wind farm would make restoration of the Flow Country much more difficult (Letters, 14 June). The restoration of this precious peatland habitat in the Flow Country and construction of a large wind farm on it are mutually exclusive activities.

The 16 sq km Strathy South wind farm being proposed by SSE would be located in the very heart of the Flow Country and would blight any efforts to restore this incredibly sensitive area, and kill and displace rare species.

RSPB Scotland is not opposed to onshore wind power generation. Of the hundreds of applications that we examine, we oppose less than 10 per cent.

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Ten years ago, when Strathy South was proposed as a potential wind farm location, we advised SSE that we would strenuously oppose any application. We have been entirely consistent throughout.

It is also wrong for SSE to imply that this general area, including the local community, will not see the benefits from wind development if this particular project does not go ahead when Strathy North received consent just months ago.

Ms Small states that “the RSPB does not have a monopoly on caring about birds and the environment”. I can agree with her there.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust also opposes Strathy South, as do ­hundreds of people up and down the country who wrote to the Highland Council to register their objections.

The government’s own advisers, Scottish Natural Heritage, ­recommended refusal due to the adverse impact on birds.

I am very pleased to say that the planning committee of the council, once it had reviewed all the evidence, also voted overwhelmingly to recommend an objection.

It would save a huge cost to the public purse, and everybody else a lot of time and money, if SSE did the right thing and withdrew this unsuitable application and devoted its considerable resources to other, more appropriately sited, projects.

Should it persist, however, we will resolutely defend the conservation cause.

Stuart Housden OBE


RSPB Scotland