Fairwind Statkraft (Orkney) Ltd (FSOL) commissioned Aquatera to conduct reconnaissance bird surveys on Hoy and Fara, Orkney, during the 2006 breeding season. These provided a preliminary account of the flight behaviour of key species at a number of prospective windfarm development sites outlined by FSOL. Due to the proximity of these sites to the Hoy special protection area (SPA), the qualifying species of the SPA required detailed consideration in the assessment of potential impacts of wind turbines at the proposed locations.
Vantage point surveys recorded flight activity of the qualifying species of the SPA (and other Annex 1 species) likely to be at risk of collision with wind turbines. These included Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata); Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus); Great skua (Stercorarius skua); Arctic skua (Stercorarius parasiticus); Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) and Merlin (Falco columbarius).
To inform scoping, Red-throated Diver was identified as the species of greatest sensitivity due to the high concentration of the British breeding population present within the Hoy SPA and therefore the key species for assessing the impact of wind turbines in this area. Areas of highest Red-throated Diver flight activity across the sites were identified. Collision risk analysis using an indicative windfarm layout was used to examine the potential impact to this species based on the flight activity observed. The feasibility of further consideration of these sites for development was assessed based on the significance of the impacts to this species.