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ScottishPower Renewables clears the way for the creation of ideal bird habitat at Whitelee Windfarm


ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) has successfully completed the first stage of its habitat management strategy at Whitelee Windfarm in East Renfrewshire, Europe’s largest onshore windfarm.

Since construction began in 2007, 900 hectares of non-indigenous commercial forestry have been removed, allowing the next phase of the project to take wing by optimising the conditions for a variety of bird species.

The Habitat Management Area currently being developed covers 2,547 hectares – equivalent to 3,429 football pitches – making it one of the largest biodiversity sites of its kind in Europe.

Work can now progress on the regeneration of native moorland and blanket bog to benefit Black Grouse, Red Grouse, wading birds and other upland wildlife.

Whitelee is a particularly important site for Black Grouse, classed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species due to a 74% decline in their population between 1981 and 2004.

Two leks - where breeding birds gather to display and mate - are present within the Habitat Management Area and SPR is taking action to sustain grouse numbers by improving the quality of lekking sites and habitat for the species.

Peter Robson, ecologist for ScottishPower Renewables said: “Enhancing the lek sites for the Black Grouse, which like the vegetation shorter in these areas, is crucial.

“We are also providing them with supplementary feed until their habitat is fully restored, while managing the spread of vermin which can endanger the eggs and chicks of the Grouse.

“Our aim is the restoration of the native habitat for the Black Grouse and other wildlife and return Whitelee to an area brimming with numerous indigenous species.”

Throughout the lifetime of Whitelee Windfarm, SPR is committed to a multi million pound investment in the biodiversity of this large area and will continue to re-establish the sites environmental credentials over the next 20 plus years.

Notes to editors:

Windfarm Habitat Management Areas

The initial 140 turbines at Whitelee Windfarm are capable of producing up to 322MW of electricity – enough to power over 180,000 homes and the equivalent of displacing 500,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Two further extensions have since been granted, which will add an additional 75 turbines, increasing overall capacity up to 593MW.

ScottishPower Renewables is part of Iberdrola Renovables, the largest wind energy company in the world* with an installed capacity of over 10.000 MW at the end of June 2009, and a pipeline of 56.622 MW. ScottishPower Renewables had 790 MW of installed capacity at the end of June 2009, a 48.8% increase on the previous year, and a pipeline of 5,018 MW.

ScottishPower Renewables is a leader in the field of developing habitat management plans at its windfarm developments. ScottishPower currently operates habitat management areas covering 6,416 hectares, which is roughly half the size of the Isle of Bute, or the size of the city of Dundee (65 km2) Areas currently under management include:

Windfarm Habitat Management Areas Being Implemented

SiteHMA AreaKey elements / species
Beinn an Tuirc, Kintyre, Argyll1670 hectaresMoorland habitat has been re-established after removal of 450 ha of forestry. Enhancement of area for Golden Eagles and Red and Black Grouse.
Beinn Tharsuinn, The Scottish Highlands140 hectaresPlanting of 30,000 deciduous trees to regenerate native woodland and upland habitat to enhance the landscape character and improve conditions for Black Grouse, Capercaillie and Hen Harrier. Existing blanket bog and grassland to be managed for upland birds.
Black Law, Lanarkshire1,440 hectaresRemoval of 400 hectares of forestry and restoration of opencast coal mine. Regeneration of Blanket Bog to enhance conditions for wading birds and farmland passerines. Enhancement of river for water voles and otters.
Cruach Mhor, Cowal, Argyll577 hectaresRemoval of 386 hectares of forestry and management of moor to create feeding conditions for Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Black Grouse
Dun Law Extension, Midlothian8.4 hectaresEnhancement of area for Black Grouse and Merlin by blanket bog restoration and native tree planting.
Greenknowes, Perthshire20 hectaresRestoration of native woodland and enhancement of the area for Black Grouse population.
Hagshaw Hill Extension, Lanarkshire12.2 hectaresEnhancement of area for Black Grouse
Wether Hill2 hectaresEnhancement of area for Black Grouse
Whitelee, South of Glasgow2547 hectaresRemoval of 900 hectares of non-native forestry to promote blanket bog and moorland regeneration. Improving conditions for Black Grouse, Red grouse, wading birds and upland wildlife.

Windfarm sites for future development of Habitat Management Areas

Mark HillBlanket Bog restoration, Red squirrels, riparian habitat enhancement and enhancement of habitat for amphibians and reptiles.Carland crossManagement of nationally rare Dorset Heath, and monitoring of badgers, bats and dormice.
HarestanesEnhancement of area for bats, otters, red squirrels and Goshawk.LynemouthEnhancement of area for Geese, Wild Swans and Barn Owl.
Beinn an Tuirc ExtensionHabitat enhancement for Hen Harrier and Black Grouse.