Concerns over Green Hairstreak survival at proposed wind farm

The proposed Cummings Hill Wind Farm
The proposed Cummings Hill Wind Farm
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Local conservationists have warned wildlife will suffer if the council gives the green light to a wind farm application south of Jedburgh

Developers Infinis have applied for their Cummings Hill 20MW seven-turbine development about three miles south of Jedburgh, to the north of Chesters.

Green Hairstreak

Green Hairstreak

But both Butterfly Conservation and the Scottish Wildlife Trust have concerns, especially in relation to the Green Hairstreak butterfly.

Dr Barry Prater, Butterfly Conservation’s East Scotland branch organiser, has written to Scottish Borders Council alerting officials to how important the proposed wind farm site is to butterflies and moths, particularly the colony of Green Hairstreak butterflies, first found there in 2005.

Dr Prater said: “This is a widespread but very scarce butterfly in the Borders, with perhaps only around 20 sites being known and some of them are vulnerable. Although it has no protection in the UK it has suffered losses in many areas through habitat destruction or deterioration and it is regarded as one of the Borders’ most important species of butterfly.

“The location of the colony is such that the planned siting of turbines and access routes will damage or possibly destroy it.”

And he said: “The habitat at this site is ideally suited to this butterfty which relies on blaeberry as the foodplant for its caterpillar.

“We would recommend mitigation measures be taken; in particular the re-siting of one or more turbines and access paths so as to avoid the known site of the Green Hairstreak colony and to ensure that it is not damaged.”

Writing on behalf of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Central Borders Group, chairman Malcolm Lindsay also raised concerns about the butterfly

He states: “This colony is not mentioned in the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted by the proposers ... (and) is directly threatened by the wind farm proposals. The proposed site of Turbine No 2 coincides with an area of maximal density of the butterflies as does the turbine path adjacent to the eastern corner of Belling Covert.

“We have no doubt that the installation of turbine and pathway as presently proposed will result in severe damage to the colony and, most likely, to its extinction.

The Green Hairstreak is “a distinctly local species” in the Borders, he writes.

He adds: “We know of only about 20 colonies, all of which are small and vulnerable.

“The colony on Belling Hill (the windfarm site) is distant from its nearest known neighbour colonies – on Ruberslaw (8km) and at Carter Bar (9km). In the event of the Belling Hill colony being destroyed repopulation from these sites would be very unlikely.

“We also know from field studies that Belling Hill is a rich habitat for several species of moths. Uncommon local species include the Light Knot Grass, Dark Tussock, Wood Tiger and Beautiful Yellow Underwing are found there and point to the hill’s rich and healthy biodiversity.”

Infinis originally proposed 13 turbines in 2011 attracting opposition from locals who immediately formed the Chesters Wind Farm Action Group.

The company cut the number to eight before settling on the seven 126.5m turbines in the application they lodged in January this year.

The site falls within the protected Teviot Valleys special landscape area (SLA).