Habitat plan to rescue rare game birds

April 4, 2013 | Community News


An endangered species of game bird could flourish once more on a South Lanarkshire moor thanks to a new conservation plan.

A once thriving population of black grouse on land at Kype Muir, South of Strathaven has been in decline in recent years and Banks Renewables is now hoping to put into place plans to reverse this.

We sought the expert knowledge of environmental surveyors at Land Use Consultants (LUC) to conduct an ecological study of the Kype Muir site, where it discovered a dwindling population of black grouse.

Our team then worked with LUC to develop a bespoke habitat management plan on the land to encourage the return of a healthy black grouse population to the area which will be implemented if plans for a wind farm on the site are approved.

Dr Rachel Hirst, director of the Scottish office of Applied Ecology Ltd, was the independent expert who coordinated the original ecology study at the site, while she worked for Land Use Consultants.

She said: “This is an exciting chance to boost the struggling black grouse population, which is declining all over Scotland and in danger of disappearing completely.

“We found that the site at Kype Muir offered limited habitat potential for the local black grouse population due to commercial forestry which currently dominates the land, and that by restructuring these areas, this potential could be significantly improved.”

Black grouse is currently listed as a priority species by Scottish National Heritage and national populations have declined at a rate of 8-10% per year since the 1990s.  This decline is attributed to the loss of natural habitats due to block forestry and intensive farming.

We recently won the backing of South Lanarkshire Council in March 2012 for a 26 turbine wind farm to be installed at Kype Muir and part of the planning application would involve felling a commercial forest, which currently provides a poor habitat for black grouse.

Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “We’ll be delighted if our proposals are given the go-ahead at Kype Muir as it will make such an important and beneficial impact on the local environment and for Scottish conservation.

“We’ve already proven that our developments can happily co-exist alongside nature and we look forward to the chance to see that happen at Kype Muir and for a rare and important species to flourish once again in South Lanarkshire.”

If approval for the wind farm is given by the Scottish Government, our plan would see the planting of a range of food and shelter species preferred by the black grouse, totalling 237 hectares of replacement woodland and shrubs including willow, birch and rowan – the equivalent of 316 football pitches.

Last year, the team worked with LUC to develop a plan to restore and protect a rare and neglected peat bog which also lies on the Kype Muir site.  A blanket bog, rare to the South of Scotland, which has been extensively damaged by years of commercial forestry could become a haven for a diverse range of wildlife if Banks Renewables Kype Muir site is given the go ahead.

Our Kype Muir Wind Farm could create up to 104MW of energy. Power generated by wind farms will help Scotland continue to enjoy the constant, reliable energy supply modern life demands – and such wind farms have already reduced the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels imported from unstable overseas markets.

As well as supporting the Scottish Government’s drive towards producing all of the energy consumed in the country through renewable means, the project would provide a significant boost to the local economy, as well as directly supporting local communities.

We have extensive experience of working in partnership with local communities across Scotland and the United Kingdom to successfully design and develop new energy schemes and deliver a range of local economic, social and environmental benefits, tailored to their individual community needs.

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