Could scurries scupper port’s turbine plans?

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SEAGULLS could scupper Peterhead Port Authority’s plans to erect two wind turbines at the town’s harbour area.

In a letter to Aberdeenshire Council, RSPB’s NE Scotland area manager Ian Francis says there could be a potential issue of the impact on gulls using the harbour area if wind turbines are erected there.

Mr Francis says the subject is considered only very briefly by the applicants, but the nearby Buchan Ness to Collieston Coast Special Protection Area is, in part, designated for its nationally important population of herring gulls present during the summer.

He states: “Some of these birds use Peterhead Harbour and there may be an issue related to flights around the propiosed turbine sites. In addition, other species such as kittiwakes can use in the area in some numbers.

“During the winter, Peterhead Harbour is a well-watched gull site. There are few systematic counts but often several thousand gulls move around the harbour area and also fly away to and from the Stoneyhill landfill site.

“This area is almost certainly one of the most densely populated wintering Herring Gull sites in Scotland. Birds using the harbour and landfill site are often seen moving to and from the nearby SPA during the late winter and early Spring.

“However, these movements are not well known. It is poosible that there could be impacts on the nearby SPA if a significant number of collisions occur, and the turbines could also pose a problem for many wintering gulls. This may be especially true in certain weather conditions.”

Mr Francis is asking that the port authority consider the issue of gulls further, using observations of flights through the potential turbine zone and calculation of collision risk.

He adds: “The sampling regime should be sufficient to monitor properly the use of this area by gulls at different seasons and times of the day, and in different conditions.”