PART of Perthshire will see its wildlife enriched if a wind farm project is approved.
The series of ecological improvements would help Scottish heathers and wildflowers to flourish, providing habitat for bees, butterflies and small birds, while native woodlands and hedgerows would also be planted.
Meanwhile, a dedicated area would be managed for curlew, a species of wading bird of conservation priority, giving the birds an ideal breeding area more than 800m from any turbines. Breeding numbers would be closely monitored for at least five years.
Independent experts from Auchterarder-based Heritage Environmental Ltd (HEL), conducted an extensive survey of the proposed site to ensure that plant and animal life in the surrounding area is enhanced if the wind farm is approved.
Ecologists who carried out the assessment said there would be no significant negative impacts on habitats as a result of creating a wind farm – and identified the potential improvements.
Mark Bates, director of ecology at HEL who led the study, said: “Banks Renewables is keen to provide a net gain for nature conservation within the site.
“So the measures we have identified will actually improve, diversify and add to the habitats currently on the site and provide direct and indirect benefits to a wide range of wildlife. They will also help in achieving both local and national biodiversity targets.”
Among the ecological benefits are plans to create “nectar margins” across the site which would help bees and other insects to thrive. The move would also create attractive, flower-rich borders around fields and would help reconnect the various woodlands and hedgerows across the site.
Wooded areas would be enhanced based on Forestry Commission guidelines aimed at restoring Scotland’s important native Ancient Woodland, while an additional 260m of hedgerows would be created by planting hawthorn, hazel, dog rose and blackthorn.
Both native woodland and hedgerows offer far reaching benefits for wildlife, providing a rich and important source of food and shelter to support a wide range of birds, insects, and mammals such as red squirrels, badgers and bats.
Elsewhere across the site, a programme of heather restoration would be undertaken on moorland areas. All of the woodland, hedgerow and moorland improvements would involve careful livestock management to maintain the habitats in a favourable condition.
Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “We have worked closely with groups, businesses and residents in the area to ensure our wind farm would deliver real financial and social benefits, supporting good causes and creating jobs and training opportunities.
“On top of that, it is fantastic to know that if our plans are given the go-ahead then we’ll be doing a massive amount of work to restore some of the most precious aspects of the countryside.
“Most people know that wind energy will help give Scotland a clean, green, secure and sustainable source of energy that we rely on in every aspect of our lives, which is hugely important to our future.
“But they probably don’t realise how we will actually be making huge inroads to protect and enhance very fragile habitats which are under threat right now.”
Full and detailed information on the Bandirran Wind Farm proposal can be found at http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/bandirran/.
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Contact: Amy Maclaine