Feystown wind farm

Background

Blackstaff Ecology was commissioned by Abo Wind Ltd to provide Ecological Consultancy advice for a 9 turbine Wind Farm at Feystown in County Antrim. A consultation response from NIEA in September 2013 stated that they (NIEA) had concerns that some small acid flushes had not been mapped (as part of the EIA or FEI) and which had been noted by NIEA staff during a site visit. Blackstaff Ecology were at first engaged to map the flushes on site and to recommend mitigation measures to ensure flow was not affected.

Then in March 2014 a further consultation response informed the applicant that the proposal (if approved) would require conditions to comply with Planning Policy Statement 2 Natural Heritage. One of the NIEA suggested draft conditions was;

No work shall commence on site until a Habitat Management Plan has been submitted and agreed in writing to the department. All onsite habitat management shall conform to the Habitat Management Plan.

Our role

After discussions with the client our ecological advice and support involved a detailed mapping of the flushes on site along with NVC categorisation. In addition to this we used our state of the art professional mapping drone (eBee) to overfly the site and produce both a detailed DSM (Digital Surface Model) and an orthomosaic of the site.

The DSM was used to produce 1m contour lines in order to map patterns of water flow across the site and inform the flush mitigation. The orthomosaic (or orthorectified aerial photos) were produced from images captured during a flyover in spring. The lush green flush vegetation is most prominent at this part of the growing season further enhancing the accuracy of the flush mapping exercise.

Flushes

The work on the flush mapping showed that the water flowed from Scawt Hill to the east of the site in a westerly direction under the proposed infrastructure. We worked alongside the project hydrologists in order to ensure no loss of flow.

Mitigation

Where tracks crossed a flush, flow across the flush is to be preserved by installing flow-balancing cross drainage pipes laterally through the track structure, retaining the hydraulic gradient across the footprint of the track. Pipes will be installed at a high frequency (nominally 10m intervals), (subject to observational design by the EcoW) to suit particular water channels observed on site. No longitudinal drainage is to be installed parallel to and adjacent to the track, in order that no unnecessary flow path that would significantly alter flow routes is introduced.

Habitat Management Plan

A HMP was also developed for the site in order to enhance the habitats on site (wet heath/acid grassland, flushes and valley mire) but also to benefit Priority Species such as snipe and Irish Hare. The overall aims of the HMP were;

  • to restore, manage and enhance 21 Ha of;
    • wet/dry heath (Priority Habitat) and acid grassland mosaic; >17 times the 1.2 Ha area of this habitat which will be lost by the construction of the proposed wind.

A secondary aim of the HMP was to manage & enhance the following areas of Priority Habitat;

  • First list item
  • Second list item

Overall it was proposed to enhance and restore approximately 30 Ha of NI Priority Habitats as part of the HMP.

  • CLIENT Wind farm near Glenarm in County Antrim
  • YEAR 2014
  • CATEGORY