Wind Farm Developer Scales New Heights to Protect Local Wildlife

by Heather Peebles

Monday, November 11th, 2013

02 BAndirran Tree Climb (2)A team of ecology experts scaled more than 80 towering trees in one the most detailed ever studies of the bat population in part of Perthshire.

Now the findings will be used by wind energy specialist to ensure their proposal for a wind farm will have no negative impact on the nocturnal creatures.

The team from Heritage Environmental spent weeks climbing a total of 83 trees to assess the number of bats roosting in and around the Bandirran Estate, east of Balbeggie.

They undertook the survey on behalf of Hamilton-based Banks Renewables, which is progressing plans for a wind farm on the Bandirran Estate.

Simon Green, Principal Ecologist at Auchterarder-based Heritage Environmental, believes it is the first time such a detailed bat assessment has been undertaken in the area.

He said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to get a detailed understanding of the bat numbers in and around the Bandirran Estate.

“The survey was particularly interesting for us as it is so close to our base in Perthshire.

“Climbing so many trees can be exhausting but it is the best way to confirm whether features identified from ground level are indeed suitable for bats.”

Experts found that selected trees within the estate are used as roosts by pipistrelle bats, one of the more common species in Scotland.

Results revealed that of the 83 trees climbed, nine supported bat roosts while a total of 50 provided suitable conditions for roosting. The remaining 24 trees were assessed to be unsuitable for bats.

To carry out the survey, an initial assessment of the trees was undertaken from ground level to identify bat-friendly features such as knot holes, root columns or cracks in branches, all of which have potential to support the flying mammals when they roost.

The team, all of whom were properly qualified and accredited to ensure safe climbing, then scaled the trees to get the closest possible view of likely roosting areas.

Further surveys have been completed by Heritage Environmental to gain an understanding of the foraging and flight activity of bats across the site.

Banks Renewables has now designed its plans to ensure that none of the tree roosts identified will be directly affected by any construction works associated with the proposed Bandirran Wind Farm.

As well as bat surveys Heritage Environmental has been working closely with Banks Renewables, during the process of the application to complete a range of ecological surveys including bird, vegetation and protected species assessments, all of which help create a detailed understanding of local wildlife in the area.

Banks Renewables hopes to use this information to create and invest in habitat management plans, which could enhance biodiversity and protect wildlife in the area should the proposed wind farm be commissioned.

Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “Environmental assessments are a vital part of the work we carry out for all of our proposed developments and we appoint independent ecological experts to do so.

“The results of these surveys will go a long way in shaping our habitat management plans which we hope will help wildlife flourish in the area around our Bandirran proposals.”

More information about Banks Renewables Bandirran Wind Farm can be found at http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/bandirran/

Banks Renewables has 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.

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood Partnership. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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