Fairwind Statkraft (Orkney) Ltd (FSOL) is currently proposing a large-scale onshore windfarm development in Orkney. A number of prospective sites across Orkney's Mainland and South Isles is under consideration by the company for the siting of a collection of separate wind turbine clusters.
Aquatera was commissioned to undertake bird surveys simultaneously at seven sites, covering a variety of habitat types including improved farmland, rough grassland, cliffs, lochs and moorland. Survey requirements at each of the sites varied according to the community of sensitive species present within each locality. Some sites were adjacent to sites designated for their bird interests; some were known to hold bird populations of local importance and for other sites there were no existing data on bird sensitivities.
Vantage point surveys were conducted to record flight activity of the key sensitive species throughout the breeding and non-breeding seasons. Target species included Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus); Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus); Merlin (Falco columbarius); Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) and wintering goose species, some of which occur in Orkney in huge numbers. Breeding bird surveys were also conducted at each of the sites.
Aquatera was responsible for all aspects of the work required to evaluate the bird interests at each of the sites and assess the effects and significance of impacts on the species of conservation importance. Aquatera carried out desk-based studies, consultations with local agencies, field surveys, data analysis, collision risk modelling and production of reports.
Fieldwork was carried out by Aquatera's bird specialist in collaboration with a local expert.