June 20, 2012 | Community News
A renowned fish scientist has assured worried anglers their sport will be unaffected by a proposed wind farm development.
Fly fishing enthusiasts at Kype Angling Club have been told their concerns about shadow flicker, noise and vibration and possible water pollution are extremely unlikely.
One of Scotland’s leading independent fish scientists, Richard McMullan, was called in by developer Banks Renewables, to review the concerns raised.
Now he has produced a detailed report, which suggests the wind farm would have no significant adverse effect on the populations of stocked brown trout Salmo trutta and other trout species, or the angling amenity in Kype Reservoir, South Lanarkshire.
Richard, Director/Principal Scientist of Motherwell-based Eco-Fish Consultants Ltd, said: “I have devoted my professional life to protecting Scotland’s fish stocks and helping them to flourish.
“Having reviewed this situation in detail, I am confident the proposed wind farm at Kype Muir, would have no adverse effect on the health and numbers of the stocked fish in Kype Reservoir or the native species in the tributaries that adjoin the reservoir.
“Nor is there any other evidence to suggest that members of the club will not be able to carry on enjoying their pastime, as they have for the past 20 years.”
Founded in 1983 the club boasted 200 members at its peak, though membership has dwindled to just 50. The small group has opposed plans for the 26 turbine wind farm, which could generate energy to power 58,000 homes, and would remove 117,500 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, that would normally be released by producing that energy by non-renewable means.
If given planning approval, the site would also offer contracts potentially worth millions of pounds to local construction and related businesses, while a community support package would yield benefits worth millions of pounds to community groups, local projects and job creation schemes.
Mr McMullan, who has spent more than 15 years studying freshwater fish populations and their environments, is a member of the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) and the Society for the Environment (SocEnv), and has recently addressed all of the main concerns raised by the anglers.
Club members feared flickering shadows from the 132m tall turbines, would scare fish to deeper waters, where they cannot be caught by fly fishing enthusiasts. However Mr McMullan insists that the turbines are far enough away from the reservoir to have no impact.
He also dismissed fears that noise and vibration – either during the construction phase or during the 25 years life of the turbines – would have any impact on fish adding: “Any potential alteration in fish behaviour from noise and vibration is considered to be highly unlikely.”
Another major concern of anglers was that the construction process could result in water pollution and poisoning of fish stocks in the reservoir – despite the fact Banks Renewables has drafted a detailed mitigation strategy to satisfy the local planning authority.
Mr McMullan added: “These controlled waters and their habitats are protected by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), which is an organisation that is rigorous in ensuring that river water quality is protected.
“As a responsible developer, Banks Renewables is committed to protecting the local environment and has an excellent track record in this regard.
“Having looked over the company’s detailed measures to prevent pollution, it is clear that they are committed to protecting the local aquatic environment, which I hope will be a reassurance to the angling club members.”
Phil Dyke, development director at Hamilton-based Banks Renewables said the company had commissioned the independent report because it was keen to win the trust and backing of the anglers.
He added: “Our development with care philosophy is fundamental to everything we do. If our project is approved, the wind farm will be here for more than 25 years and we want to be part of the fabric of the local community and for local people to see long-term benefits from our developments.
“The angling club will be one of our closest neighbours and while we understand their concerns, we hope this report, by one of Scotland’s leading independent experts, will allay their concerns and allow us to move forward positively.
“We have worked in close proximity to waters fished by angling clubs next to numerous Banks developments around the UK and are confident that this will be the case at Kype Muir.”
Members of the Banks Renewables team will present the report and its findings to angling club members at a meeting on June 19. A planning application for the wind farm was submitted to South Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Government’s Consents Unit in January 2012.
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 380 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors. The company’s development with care approach underpins all community consultation and ensures environmental excellence.