ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) has successfully completed the first stage of its habitat management strategy at Whitelee Windfarm in East Renfrewshire, Europe’s largest onshore windfarm.
Since construction began in 2007, 900 hectares of non-indigenous commercial forestry have been removed, allowing the next phase of the project to take wing by optimising the conditions for a variety of bird species.
The Habitat Management Area currently being developed covers 2,547 hectares – equivalent to 3,429 football pitches – making it one of the largest biodiversity sites of its kind in Europe.
Work can now progress on the regeneration of native moorland and blanket bog to benefit Black Grouse, Red Grouse, wading birds and other upland wildlife.
Whitelee is a particularly important site for Black Grouse, classed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species due to a 74% decline in their population between 1981 and 2004.
Two leks - where breeding birds gather to display and mate - are present within the Habitat Management Area and SPR is taking action to sustain grouse numbers by improving the quality of lekking sites and habitat for the species.
Peter Robson, ecologist for ScottishPower Renewables said: “Enhancing the lek sites for the Black Grouse, which like the vegetation shorter in these areas, is crucial.
“We are also providing them with supplementary feed until their habitat is fully restored, while managing the spread of vermin which can endanger the eggs and chicks of the Grouse.
“Our aim is the restoration of the native habitat for the Black Grouse and other wildlife and return Whitelee to an area brimming with numerous indigenous species.”
Throughout the lifetime of Whitelee Windfarm, SPR is committed to a multi million pound investment in the biodiversity of this large area and will continue to re-establish the sites environmental credentials over the next 20 plus years.
Notes to editors:
Windfarm Habitat Management Areas
The initial 140 turbines at Whitelee Windfarm are capable of producing up to 322MW of electricity – enough to power over 180,000 homes and the equivalent of displacing 500,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Two further extensions have since been granted, which will add an additional 75 turbines, increasing overall capacity up to 593MW.
ScottishPower Renewables is part of Iberdrola Renovables, the largest wind energy company in the world* with an installed capacity of over 10.000 MW at the end of June 2009, and a pipeline of 56.622 MW. ScottishPower Renewables had 790 MW of installed capacity at the end of June 2009, a 48.8% increase on the previous year, and a pipeline of 5,018 MW.
ScottishPower Renewables is a leader in the field of developing habitat management plans at its windfarm developments. ScottishPower currently operates habitat management areas covering 6,416 hectares, which is roughly half the size of the Isle of Bute, or the size of the city of Dundee (65 km2)
SPR Habitat Management Programmes