Claws for con­cern as wildcat ‘at risk’ from new wind farm

Cam­paign­ers fear seven-tur­bine site will dis­turb breed­ing sea­son

The Herald - - NEWS - JODY HAR­RI­SON

FEARS have been raised for the fu­ture of the Scot­tish wildcat be­cause of a wind tur­bine project which cam­paign­ers claim will ruin its na­tive habitat.

Cam­paign­ers have opened up new fronts in their bat­tle against the seven-tur­bine Tul­ly­mur­doch wind farm at Alyth, Perthshire, af­ter los­ing their ini­tial court case.

Those op­posed to the scheme warn it will dis­turb the breed­ing sea­son of one of the few re­main­ing “queen” wild­cats known to live in the area, and want the lo­cal coun­cil to en­sure any works will take place in the months out­side this pe­riod.

They have launched a pe­ti­tion call­ing on Perth and Kin­ross Coun­cil to en­sure any build­ing work takes place out­side of the months be­tween March and Au­gust, when the wildcat may be nur­tur­ing young.

He­len Dou­glas, who lives nearby, has also launched an ap­peal at the In­ner House seek­ing to stop the wind farm af­ter los­ing her first case against de­vel­oper RDS El­e­ment Power Lim­ited at the Court of Ses­sion.

De­spite fac­ing bank­ruptcy, the shep­herd had hoped to try to stop the firm’s plans for the green en­ergy scheme, only to have a judge rule in the com­pany’s favour.

The firm was pre­vi­ously granted per­mis­sion to in­stall the tur­bines and 11.8 miles of un­der­ground ca­bles link­ing the Tul­ly­mur­doch wind farm to an­other green en­ergy scheme at Wel­ton of Creuchies. The ca­bles would also con­nect the two wind farms to a pri­mary sub sta­tion in Coupar Angus.

Launch­ing the pe­ti­tion, Ms Dou­glas said: “We be­lieve the sur­vival of a species that is crit­i­cally en­dan­gered should not be com­pro­mised by the scram­ble for sub­si­dies by a multi­na­tional com­pany. There are so few wild­cats left that one breed­ing sea­son for one fe­male is cru­cial to the whole species.”

The fe­male wildcat is be­lieved to have bred on the pro­posed wind farm site for the past two years.

She is one of at most a cou­ple of dozen “pure” fe­males es­ti­mated to be left in Scot­land, and there­fore vi­tal to the an­i­mals’ sur­vival.

The pe­ti­tion, on the 38 de­grees web­site, states: “The wind farm has plan­ning per­mis­sion and some con­di­tions have been set to pro­tect wildcat. On a neigh­bour­ing site, Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage ad­vised avoid­ance of any ac­tiv­ity March-Au­gust.

“At Tul­ly­mur­doch, how­ever, a spokesman said this would be ‘the ideal’ but ‘this is a big­ger de­vel­op­ment where there is more money at stake for the de­vel­oper, and as it is eas­ier for con­struc­tors to work in the sum­mer months we have not set the same con­di­tion.’ The Plan­ning Au­thor­ity is not obliged to re­strict its con­di­tions to those ad­vised by Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage. In or­der to com­ply with the law, we urge that the site, and the ca­ble route, re­main undis­turbed un­til Septem­ber 2017.”

A coun­cil spokesman said: “A com­pre­hen­sive suite of plan­ning con­di­tions were im­posed as part of the 2014 con­sent and as part of the 2015 con­sent sub­ject to the le­gal chal­lenge. These in­cluded con­di­tions that catered for the pro­tec­tion of wild­cats as well as other pro­tected species and wildlife.

“The de­vel­oper has now be­gun the tur­bine de­vel­op­ment at Tul­ly­mur­doch on the ba­sis of their 2014 plan­ning con­sent.”

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