Argyll/Tiree Array zone now subject to ‘area search’

The sea area proposed for the gigantic Argyll [or Tiree] Array offshore wind farm is now to be subject to an area search with a view to part of it being designated a Marine Special Area of Conservation.

Given the survey results that have shown this area to be a hot spot for rare and threatened species -particularly the Great Northern Diver and the Basking Shark, for which it is a breeding area. it is likely that this area search will culminate in so designating at least part of the proposed sea area for the wind turbine array.

If this were to happen, the Marine SAC would be proposed by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

As we reported yesterday, Iberdrola, the Spanish corporate owner of the wind farm proposals’ developer, Scottish Power Renewables [SPR], is in difficult financial circumstances, selling assets to pay down a high dent burden.

This is thought to have been a strong contributory factor in Scottish Power Renewables’ recent announcement that it was putting the project in limbo for a year while it researched the current state of technologies related to turbines and to offshore wind installations.

EU habitat protection legislation prohibits development within Special Areas of Conservation so such an outcome of the area search would add yet more height to the bar SPR will have to clear to proceed with this proposal – if they are ever in a position to do so.

In its current financial vulnerability, Iberdrola is known and knows itself  to be a potential target for takeover bids. This leaves Scottish Power and Scottish Power Renewables also in limbo with uncertain futures.

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4 Responses to Argyll/Tiree Array zone now subject to ‘area search’

  1. Good news – I think. Trump was allowed, indeed encouraged, to destroy a SSSI by the SNP – so there seems no reason to think that they will view any SAC as worthy of protection from wind turbines.

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  2. “EU habitat protection legislation prohibits development within Special Areas of Conservation”

    Not quite as simple as that. The SAC designation is not a ‘blanket’ type ban on any development or activity – it involves definition of a specific ‘conservation interest’ e.g. a species or habitat, and then seeks to control any development which would directly harm that interest.

    The designation process involves extensive consultation with any parties whose activities may be affected by it, and the aim is to mitigate damage by awareness and careful planning, rather than to ban anything or everything arbitrarily.

    Unless it could be shown that the presence of turbines would itself be harmful, any restrictions would likely only affect the actual construction phase, and take the form of, e.g. limitations on the type or intensity of work which could be done during the breeding season.

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    • Hi Tim, Correct on all points. If the area is given accreditation it will complement Tiree’s existing onshore SSSI’s/SPA’s. Given the vast size of the proposal,SPR also have to show that local climate change forced by the placement of the Array will not affect these (Tiree Machair etc)

      It has now been shown that the area of the array is not simply a uk bottleneck type hotspot for Basking Sharks (and this has further flagged the issue) it is in fact a breeding zone that the Sharks head to from a huge atlantic area encompassing the west coast of Africa…and the primary location for this in at least europe… The Sharks are afforded international protection from harrasment (all the more pertinent during the breeding season)this includes marine industrialisation disturbance.

      Mitigation, as discussed with the agencies…is a distant dream during the breeding months…late March mid September…this would have been SPR’s most productive weather window for construction…I understand totally why this government contractor (SPR Iberdrola) are forming a huddle on this point.

      SPR also have the Great Northern Diver through the winter months, the affects to their project would be less, as given the swell operations would be minimal during the winter…as the majority of the GND’s come from Iceland folk in Iceland as well as ourselves are monitoring SPR’s intentions.

      As FA rightly state the “Bar” grows ever higher…if due process and corprate/government issues are sincerely applied without bias to profit margins… SPR will bow out gracefully…

      Taking into consideration the thankfully,growing international interest in the impact of this industrialisation…I have little doubt that those against this project, self included, will at sometime be able to get back to normal lives.

      Anyhow, rest assured, if the SG push this project further or if SPR decide to “go-ahead” it is certain that folks will be reading about it in the Washington Post LOL…

      Like NTA have always stated…we have no problem with SPR waiting until floating turbine development is proven and the Array is placed out to sea 30km + from our shores…

      PS: I have it on good authority that Greenpeace/FoE also will now also not support innapropriate industrialisation if it is shown to have detemental effects on the very thing these projects are supposed to be protecting….the least damaged, most natrual places.
      Interesting times.

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