WILDLIFE tourism and biodiversity will be damaged if a 45-turbine windfarm is built at Faw Side in the Ewes valley, it is claimed.
The Faw Side Community Group, which is campaigning against the project by Community Windpower Ltd of Cheshire, has used Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) to put across its points.
Five of the turbines will be 178m high and the remainder 200m high and the development will stretch from Ewes to Teviothead and across to Bentpath.
The group says the LBAP has several objectives, including wildlife tourism, under which the environmental, economic and social importance of biodiversity is highlighted.
The group points out that the area of the Southern Uplands just north of Langholm in the Ewes Valley has now become part of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle project.
The project has tracked the three released eagles and sightings of the birds have already been made in the valley. Once the eagles have matured enough, they could possibly pair up, mate and nest in the area.
Reports show there is very little chance of eagles becoming victims to bird strike from wind turbine blades because they will avoid areas where turbines are sited.
Another section focuses on acid grasslands and its importance to associated species, particularly birds.
The group believes the proposed windfarm would be detrimental to these species, including buzzards and hen harriers.
Inland rock outcrops are very important to birds and Ewes has the Arkleton Crags.
This location is perfectly suited to the birds mentioned. The Crags are on the east of the A7 but these birds of prey rely on such a large open habitat that turbines would intrude on their welfare.
It has been reported that a golden eagle can travel up to 200 miles in a day.
It says upland heaths are also important to birds and other species.
In a statement, it said: “Wildlife tourism has the opportunity to bring visitors and significant economic benefits at times of the year when other attractions have little to offer.
“Several species of high conservation importance occur at low densities but need extensive areas of the habitat to persist.
“Extensive sites form an important part of the territories of golden eagles, red kites, hen harriers, merlins and barn owls.
“Several birds of prey use rock ledges as nesting sites, especially golden eagles, peregrines, kestrels and, occasionally, buzzards and merlins.
“Upland heaths are prime habitats for birds like red grouse, black grouse, golden plovers, dunlins, snipe, hen harriers, merlins, wheatears, ring ouzels and twites.
“Most of these have declined substantially over the last 100 years and some, like dunlins and ring ouzels, are now very rare upland heathland breeding species.
“We conclude that the turbines would bring major disadvantages to the continued existence of some bird species in the Ewes Valley Southern Uplands.
“It would almost certainly prevent golden eagles from remaining in the area because they are known to avoid areas with turbines.
“It is difficult to understand why, when funds are being put towards these projects, including the hen harrier project, a proposed windfarm could be considered.
“Historically, golden eagles have nested and reared young in the area as reported by a Scottish Natural Heritage report, Golden Eagles in the South of Scotland.
“It says a windfarm along a ridge would lead to a greater habitat loss than the same windfarm positioned away from a ridge.
“The introduction of the SURF project in Langholm has, as one of its main objectives, furthering tourism.
“The area proposed to be used has been designated an RSA (Regional Scenic Area) and borders an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
“Both these areas would be devastated by this industrialisation of an outstanding area of beauty.