Renewable Developer Nurtures Environment
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
on behalf of Banks Group
The Red Moss bog near Douglas, South Lanarkshire is internationally important as one of Europe’s rarest and most threatened habitats.
Now the raised bog habitat, which has deteriorated as a result of drainage, is in line for a boost which would help it to thrive again, supporting rare flora and fauna.
Excited scientists say a series of improvements and investments in the surrounding area by Hamilton-based Banks Renewables could help preserve the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for future generations.
Dr Sarah Toogood, senior ecologist at CH2M HILL, has been working with Banks Renewables, to create a series of habitat management plans designed to enhance the area.
She said: “We now have an exciting chance to restore a large area of habitat – which in ecological terms is of international importance – right in the heart of South Lanarkshire.
“What is most exciting is that the plans for enhancing and maintaining the raised bog will help maximise its habitat potential and bring benefits to the wider area, encouraging species such as waders, black grouse, bats and otters.
“Restoring the natural processes in the bog will give the species it supports a chance to thrive and enable their populations to stay viable into the future.
“This is a great chance to preserve and protect part of our natural heritage, while encouraging biodiversity.”
Dr Toogood and her colleagues have worked closely with Banks Renewables throughout the scoping and planning process for the wind farm and say they are excited by the plans to see the vital habitat maintained and protected.
The senior ecologist added: “The Red Moss bog is recognised nationally as a SSSI protected under the Nature Conservation Act, and internationally as a Special Area of Conservation designated under the EU Habitats Directive.”
The high quality peatland habitat supports numerous unusual plants and insect species, but drainage has left it fragile. As part of its plans to construct the nearby Middle Muir Wind Farm, Banks Renewables has pledged to help reverse the damage and to work on restoring the site.
Efforts to improve the Red Moss habitat would include linking it with the surrounding landscape, including woodland, heathland, acid grassland and blanket bog, to enhance its robustness and to encourage the movement of species.
Careful Environmental Management
Those efforts would also be backed up with careful plans to manage grazing in the area as well as blocking drains and restoring water courses to help the bog to build and become self-sustaining.
Improvements to the area would be measured by the continued presence of bog pools and sundew, the growth of cranberry and bog asphodel, and by evidence of active bog-building to prevent any increase in the area of eroded bog.
As part of the ambitious habitat management plan staff from Banks Renewables would work with Scottish Natural Heritage toward meeting South Lanarkshire Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan.
Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said the company had scaled back the proposed operation and design of the Middle Muir Wind Farm to avoid areas of Red Moss and to avoid damage to the natural habitat.
He added: “We hope our proposals to improve the Red Moss bog will make such an important and beneficial impact on the local environment, on top of the fact that a wind farm would be generating clean power.
“This will give ecologists a chance to raise the water levels and improve the fragile peat bog, which is a haven for rare plants and animals. It will also enable planting of native broadleaf woodlands, encouraging a much greater diversity of wildlife.
“This work clearly demonstrates that every care is taken to ensure that environmental impacts are assessed and minimised and the team at Banks Renewables carry out detailed site feasibility studies and Environmental Impact Assessments throughout the planning process.”
South Lanarkshire Council recently voted “not to object” to the planning application for a 15 turbine wind farm at Middle Muir, which is now with the Scottish Energy Consents Unit for consideration.
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 420 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.
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