NTA, from the outset, offered in- depth analysis of environmental and visual-impact issues with regard to offshore renewables,at local , national ,and international levels.
Visual impact issues click on this link
NTA received compliments from many sources for this analysis and presentation.
Karl Hughes’ initial page on environmental issues for the website in Feb 2011 was regarded as a seminal work for its concise presentation.
Of specific relevance was possible SPA/MPA status for the area of the proposed Tiree Array. Such status was not designated prior to SPR dropping the proposed Array (Dec2013) but was an integral element of Scottish Government’s Planning Scotland’s Seas Consultation conducted over the last 12 months.
SPA and MPA status for Tiree :- Progress Report(25/7/2014 )
Tiree is making positive progress to both Special Protection Area(SPA) and Marine Protected Area (MPA) status.
- Click on this link to Scottish G’s news release (http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/New-protection-for-Scotland-s-seas-f1e.aspx). In turn this gives you links to all the relevant information and data.
- The areas have been identified by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) through a programme of research and survey. Scottish Ministers will consider this advice in detail and hold another consultation in due course.
- Whilst SPA and MPA status does not pre-empt possible development of wind /wave /tidal renewables projects, within the designated protection areas, such designation represents a significant additional environmental status which renewables developers would prefer to avoid. Scottish Renewables, the developers trade organisation,on behalf of its 330 members, made this specific point in its submission to this consultation.
- SPECIAL PROTECTION AREA(SPA):- Tiree incl Skerryvore-Gunna-/ N coast Coll is designated marine dSPA status ie is now in the process to possible SPA status for Tiree for GND and Eider
- Update Aug 2016: SPA status is now on a trajectory to be granted by end 2016/Q1 2017. For full details and documentation go to the SNH w/site
- SPA status adds a significant environmental hurdle for any Developer to jump should any consideration be given to develop the original Tiree Array wind farm as a wave energy site, per the National Marine Plan .
- Following SNH’s public consultation meeting on Tiree in Aug 2016, this note on Tiree’s SPA status, and implications for any possible future Tiree offshore renewables development, was circulated to NTA members (NTA SNH Doc Aug 2016),and formed the basis of NTA’s submission to SNH’s SPA Consultation
- MPA : Tiree was included in a ‘search area to establish if it merited progress to be considered for MPA status to protect basking shark and species of whale and dolphin..It has now fulfilled the merit criteria to move forward into the process to decide if it should be granted MPA status. This same process has resulted in 30 areas being designated MPA status on the 24th July 2014.
Update (Aug 2016):- NTA has seen reports on other marine conservation w/sites that SNH’s progress on the SKYE-MULL site to MPA status has stalled. NTA is checking with SNH as to its current status, and will post any response
The trajectory of this process would suggest that Tiree may gain both SPA and MPA status.
Environmental issues, with regard to Tiree Array, take on huge local and national significance, with Tiree’s habitat and marine environment supporting considerable tranches of UK’s avian and sea mammal populations.
Environmental issues, with regard to the proposed Tiree Array, ed tagrwill be presented on this exclusive page on the NTA website .
What better way to bring the reader up to speed than refer to SPR’s presentation of its Oct 2012 findings. Note SPR made this presentation after their 2012 summer basking shark survey which recorded, over a weekend, 918 basking sharks, within the proposed Array.
- to identify the ‘expert authorities‘ they have been consulting
- to publish their full survey reports.
These surveys have identified 2 key species that the Array, if consented ,will impact ,
As an outcome of these survey results SPR is considering reducing the Array area :-
This reduction in area could notionally reduce the Array to 215X 6MW turbines, from the current proposed 300, which SPR will no doubt offer as mitigation! But, with the trajectory of turbine design, linked to the project delay, there is every possibility, if SPR was to restart the project, that the Array could be re-designed with 180X10MW turbines, thereby reverting to its original 1800MW capacity.
This could be no more than a sop to the L&C process.
Marine Scotland published their research in Oct 2012
Irrespective, there is increasing evidence of Development Creepage. This is when during, or shortly after construction, the developer applies for an extention to the size of the original windfarm or Array. Once built, any objection to an extention on environmental grounds is emasculated.
Examples of Development Creepage:- Whitelee/Walney. The latter is off shore Cumbria.The developer wants to more than double it from 102 turbines to 222 turbines.
The bald facts are:-
- SPR concede environmental impact on Basking Sharks and GNDs
- SPR concede mitigation by considering a reduction in the Array.
- SPR’ s presentation shows that such a reduction is meaningless.
- Meaningful mitigation is only achievable if the Array is dropped.
Tiree, Special Protected Area (SPA): Corncrakes and Great Northern Divers,
Hypocrisy and the Destruction of an Endangered Species.
The inshore waters of Tiree hold over 42% of the wintering population of the Great Northern Diver…the proposed location is home to these beautiful birds.
In 1992, Governments throughout the European Union adopted legislation designed to protect Europe’s natural resources. The legislation is called the Habitats Directive and it protects the most seriously threatened habitats and species across Europe. It complements the Birds Directive adopted in 1979.
At the heart of both of these Directives is the creation of a network of sites called Natura 2000. The Birds Directive requires the establishment of Special Protected Areas (SPA’s). SPA’s are vitally important for rare and vulnerable birds because they rely on them for breeding, feeding, wintering and migration.
The Habitats Directive requires Special areas of conservation (SAC’s) to be designated for other species, and for habitats. SAC’s are classified under the Habitats Directive and provide rare and vulnerable animals, plants and habitats with increased protection and management.
Together, SPA’s and SAC’s make up the Natura 2000 network. All EU member States are required to manage and implement Natura 2000 Networking Programme’s partnership approach. A strategic approach that ensures for example ; that a species breeding in one location can arrive at its wintering grounds in another…and complete it’s natural cycle.
Isle of Tiree (SPA)
In March 2000 the land mass of Tiree was classified as a SPA, this decision was based on our breeding Corncrake population. The population forms 9.2% of the UK’s breeding population.
To attain this protection for our Corncrakes the Isle of Tiree had to fulfill a certain number of criteria, this was exceeded and now the Corncrakes have a stable breeding ground. What implications the proposed Argyll Array (Tiree Array) will have is yet to be established.
Will ringing our island with turbines cut these birds down mid flight? Will the other two huge wind farms to the north and south destroy migration routes for the Corncrake and our other avian visitors?
The destruction of the Great Northern Diver wintering grounds (fiasco, illegal or hypocrisy?)
It is a simple task to show that the Great Northern Diver or Muir-bhuachaille is a vulnerable species; it is on the IUCN RED List. It is a species classed as ‘ highly sensitive to human disturbance’ and currently falls within the realms of a local extinction criteria, if not protected it will gradually climb up the list to ‘ High risk of Global extinction’ www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/106003868/0.
As with the Corncrakes, all species have to meet and hopefully exceed a certain threshold of numbers and concentration to be viably placed within the protection of an SPA or SAC. It makes sense to protect vulnerable and at risk species from decline. As per the Scottish Executives Environmental report (Scottish Marine SEA Faber Maunsell & Metoc 2007) pre empting the allotment of exclusive rights to Scottish Power Renewables and others…and pertaining directly to Great Northern Diver population;
‘Northern and Western Scotland holds very important numbers of Great Northern Divers overwinter. The study area is a strong hold for this species in winter in the UK. Great Northern Divers prefer rocky to sandy shores, and their distribution extends more offshore(10’s of km) than the other diver species ( Black Throated/ Red Throated) Large concentrations are found in particular along the sandy shores and bays of the Northern Isles and Western Isles, in Shetland at least that numbers are in sharp decline (Heubeck 2005)’
The inshore waters of Tiree: a solid case for SPA status, the winter home of the largest population of Great Northern Divers in the UK.
The following report was issued in August 2009
‘On the basis of the UK SPA Selection Guidelines (Stroud et al. 2001) the waters around Coll and Tiree qualify as an SPA in the area for the great northern diver at stage 1.1. Therefore, when the complete suite of marine SPAs in inshore areas is being determined the inshore areas of Coll and Tiree (or parts thereof), should be considered for inclusion. If the inshore areas of Coll and Tiree are further considered for SPA classification then additional analysis will be required of the data presented here in order to determine a boundary for that SPA. Once dedicated surveys have clarified the relative importance of other potential areas for the various species around the shores of both mainland Scotland and its islands, consideration may also be given to inclusion of other species using stage 1.4 of the SPA UK Site Selection Guidelines’
It is a case of fact that already it is proven that the waters around Tiree, for many of 10’s of km offshore and with concentrations at Skerryvore and throughout the proposed location of the Tiree Array are the wintering grounds of a minimum of 42% of the British Population of the Great Northern Diver. The shallow waters of the Skerryvore reef and the entire North to south transect of the Array location is a global hot spot…of global importance. The water depth from 0m to 50m is a favorite habitat for this internationally protected species.
Further support…given that we have at least 42% of the British population of Great Northern Divers what else does the waters around Tiree have to do to be the protected wintering grounds?
A comparison of other species and other percentages of population all of which visit our Island:
Sleibhtean agus Cladach Thiriodh (Tiree Wetlands and Coast) SPA description
(Information as published 2001)
This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
During the breeding season;
Corncrake Crex crex, 47 individuals representing at least 9.8% of the breeding population in Great Britain (1993-1997)
This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis, 959 individuals representing at least 3.6% of the wintering population in Great Britain (winter peak mean)
Greenland White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons flavirostris, 783 individuals representing at least 5.6% of the wintering population in Great Britain (winter peak mean)
This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
During the breeding season;
Dunlin Calidris alpina schinzii, 125 pairs representing at least 1.1% of the breeding Baltic/UK/Ireland population (1994/5)
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, 160 pairs representing <0.1% of the breeding Europe & Northern/Western Africa population (1994/5)
Redshank Tringa totanus, 140 pairs representing at least 0.2% of the breeding Eastern Atlantic – wintering population (1994/95)
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 160 pairs representing at least 1.0% of the breeding Europe/Northern Africa – wintering population (1998)
Turnstone Arenaria interpres, 700 individuals representing at least 1.0% of the wintering Western Palearctic – wintering population (mean 1995, 1998, & 1999 special surveys)
Note Also : EU protection status: Natura 2000 Code: UK9003033 and UK9003034
Other protection status: A small (2.4%) section of the Coll (corncrake) SPA (UK9003033) is designated as a site of Special Scientific Interest under UK legislation (Crossapol and Gunna SSSI).
So where does the Scottish Government and Scottish Power Renewables (Iberdrola) go from here?
We have already shown that the area of inshore waters for many 10’s km out far exceeds the criteria for SPA status…that the area is of British, European and International importance. That it is a crucial hereditary wintering ground for the Great Northern Diver. The birds cannot simply move elsewhere, hereditary instinct, trial and error; evolution has selected their wintering grounds…a symbiosis of environment and creature, food and shelter…
The JNCC, SNH, RSPB, BTO and now the NTA are all aware of the situation and, the grave consequences this proposed development will have on this endangered species.
All are aware that the area should have been adopted as an SPA prior to exclusive rights been released by the Crown Estates.
Maybe a burecratic error or an exceptional work load or a hidden agenda has delayed the process of certification and protection.
One thing is for certain, the Great Northern Diver is here to stay, unless the Scottish Government and Scottish Power Renewables feel the sacrifice of a species supports the generation of ‘Green’ electricity in our home waters…
Do the cash returns for a Spanish Multinational such as Iberdrola outweigh the bio diversity of our beautiful home isle?
Does the Pelican Brief now become the Great Northern Diver Brief?
A number of parties have contacted NTA, and the Shark Trust, reporting large numbers of sharks within the proposed Array area. This confirms the latest JNCC reports, which advise that the focus of shark activity around Tiree is the Skerryvore Reef area, and to a lesser degree, Gunna sound. NTA urges all, to report sightings to the Shark Trust with ,if possible, photographs as per this sighting report submitted by a NTA member
Coincidently following NTA’s high profile reportage of the possible impact of the proposed Array on Tiree and Scotland’s basking shark environment SNH has embarked on a ‘ shark tagging project .
Media and Environmental Protection Group reportage to date includes the following :-
This weeks (16th Aug ) Oban Times reported with ref to the Shark Tagging Project :-
Tiree Sharks Surprise Scientists / Unique Behaviour Recorded.
“ Already teams of scientists have observed patterns previously not associated with the species ie leaping several feet into the air ..known as breaching …it seems to occur only in these areas….we don’t know why they’re doing it”
Dr Suzanne Henderson of SNH added “ There has not really been any accurate population tests here and that ‘s because of the lack of data … there are large numbers of sharks in these areas and what these tags will show is how long individual sharks are hanging around for and they’re using the waters….so far the largest populations we’vbe seen is around Coll and Tiree,.. it is thought the area could not only be highly significant for feeding but as a breeding area…. We think this area is very important”
Lionel Davoust, Volunteer for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), informs us about all the latest Basking Shark sightings in Scotland.
Seeing these gentle giants of the sea surface peacefully in a glass-like sea under the silvery sky of Scotland always inspires a feeling of reverence, for scientists and wildlife lovers alike.
It is thus no surprise that these two islands are the main focus of a current tagging project, undertaken by the University of Exeter. The researchers are currently working from Tobermory to tag the animals; this technique allows the scientists to retrieve a wealth of information that goes a long way towards a better understanding and conservation of the populations. Once the sharks are tagged, you can follow their movements yourself online. For more information about the project, please click here. To follow the tagged Basking Shark movements, please click here.”
The SNH-Exeter Univ Basking Shark project’s final report was issued (Jan 2016)
Its conclusions include:-“Seasonal site fidelity during summer months and inter-annual site fidelity are reported for the first time, highlighting that measures such as MPAs may be a valuable conservation tool for this migratory species ‘ .
In addition ,this report from the DTelegraph encapsulates some of the protection issues impacting on German offshore wind farm development. There is no reason to believe that such issues can be avoided by UK/Scottish developers.
Protecting porpoises’ hearing adds millions to wind farm projects
“A porpoise is doomed to die if its hearing is shattered,” Kim Detloff, a marine expert at German nature conservation group NABU, told Bloomberg. “The regulator must sanction developers if they repeatedly violate the noise limit.”
“Quite a large proportion of our sea area will probably be used for offshore wind farms,” said Hans-Ulrich Rosner, head of the Wadden Sea Office for WWF in Germany. “This will have a serious impact on nature, which needs to be mitigated.”
Noise mitigation systems cost at least €80,000 per foundation, said Fabian Wilke, the RWE’s noise reduction expert.
Whales and Dolphins of Scotland need your help!
WDCS has circulated the foll
You may remember that I wrote to you earlier in the year to ask for your help. We needed to convince the Scottish Government to include whales and dolphins in the protected areas that they are creating in Scottish seas.
We have had an incredible response so far with over 13,000 supporters signing our petition – if you are among that number – thank you!
The Government is due to provide its formal advice to Scottish Parliament in December, and there is still a very real chance that areas of sea, that are vital to whales and dolphins, may be left out of the protected zones.
Please act now, before it is too late .
Watch our campaign video:
sign our petition.
Thank you for your support.
Local Climate Change is an issue that may affect us all directly.
Another Issue for Scottish Power Renewables. How do the crofters of Tiree fancy another foot of rain a year?/How do the holiday makers fancy an extra month of dry weather…?/Would you like to live to feel the bite of a harr (cold fog) in the spring, frost on an extra 20 nights a year?/Maybe an average increase in ambient daily temperature of say 2 Celsius… no frost…. and for Tiree’s watersports industry and visitors a drop in average wind speeds
Some of the above sound very appealing….some not ! Some of the others well, let’s face it we get our fair share of weather and anything that makes it worse can’t be good for crofter, beast, residents or visitors!
Micro climate change is part of the Environmental Impact Study that Scottish Power Renewables are obliged to study, in depth.
Little work has been done within the Renewables industry to ascertain the effects offshore turbines have on local micro or nano climate (to you and me that is everything between Gunna and Ceann a’ Mhara). It’s a subject that affects us all, our daily lives…our businesses…and no doubt our sanity and health.
The lack of research is most likely down to the speed of deployment and the increase in size of turbines, not keeping up with evolving environmental issues. There is information out there but nothing that can give assurance to a genuinely unique windfarm proposal…ultimately this one is for the developer
It is imperative to note at this point that Tiree is in a globally totally unique situation, we are a small isolated offshore Isle…the proposed Array location covers an arc and forms a barrier to our regular prevailing wind direction…to you and me that means we are somewhere in the middle of the above example (no this is not a simulation it is a real photograph) We are not just talking about the Argyll aka Tiree Array…we also must think ahead to the other two proposed arrays…possibly larger. The one between Tiree and Barra and the other off Islay. What is the cumulative effect…?All large wind turbines disrupt natural airflow to extract energy from wind. Turbulence mixes the lower layers of the atmosphere. Researchers have found that especially in the predawn hours, when the atmosphere is less turbulent, a large windmill array could influence the local climate. The rotating blades could also redirect high-speed winds down to the Earth’s surface, boosting evaporation of soil moisture.
I have long heard of micro-climates, isolated areas that have slightly different weather patterns than the surrounding larger area. Look what happens if you keep the wind out of your garden here (ie: Glebe), but look at the other side of the coin too. Increased precipitation leads to acidity in the soil etc…we all know the state of Tiree during this wet winter. Also we have all had to drink bottled water when the loch has been low… the lambs don’t fatten if the grass isn’t growing at lambing time.The nano-climate effect of wind farms has been observed with off-shore wind farms. Retired garage owner Mike Page, 70, of Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England took pictures of the fog created by an off-shore wind farm the scene from his Cessna 150 light aircraft (as above told you it was real), said ‘The spinning blades whip moisture into the air like giant egg mixers. It definitely occurs several times a year; sometimes gathering upwind of the turbines and sometimes downwind depending on the conditions….It is a fascinating example of how wind farms create their own micro-climate. It is the same as any geographical feature affecting the weather.’ As with many issues involving man’s impact on the climate, the jury seems to still be out on the impact of wind to create nano-climates. A more important issue is whether those nano-climates are better or worse for local residents than the broader climate of their area, the climate without the nano-climate effect of wind. The truth about this needs to be revealed after full studyTo allay our fears and to keep the status quo of our agriculture and tourism businesses and all the other businesses they support
Scottish Power Renewables must prove no negative affects to our Island’s climate.
In any case there is an irony: environmental policy in the name of countering the human influence on macro climate is creating a substantial human influence on micro climate. If the natural climate is optimal, as some but not all ecologists believe, then industrial wind turbines add to the problem of man versus nature
SCOUR AND CABLE PROTECTION:
The environmental implications of Scour and Cable protection tend to be ignored, because they are not seen!
Layers of stone have to be dumped around the base of every turbine foundation to minimise ‘ seabed erosion’ . Such erosion compromises foundation integrity .
Cables have to be buried up to 1.5/2m. This requires trenches to be ploughed, or cut, into the seabed to bury the cable and then the trench be covered with rock-fill or armour plating. Recently a Danish offshore wind farm was out of action for 2 months due to a cable ‘ cut’ caused by poor cable protection ( Tiree knows all about sub-sea cable failure !!))
The underwater aggregate dispersal for the Tiree Array, from Tiree’s major shellfish catchment area, would have been several million tons, resulting in significant detrimental impacts on the marine environment.
The above shows NTA’s comprehensive understanding of the environmental issues, and
data , that applied to the Tiree Array , and which in turn impacted on SPR’s decision to drop the Tiree Array . It is with regret that NTA notes that SG -MS has ignored this environmental data in designating WW3 and OWW2 as possible development sites in the 2015 NMP