Ora More wind farm

Background

Blackstaff Ecology Ltd was commissioned by NTR to provide EcoW’s (Ecological Clerk of Works) supervision during the construction of a 6 turbine Wind Farm near Belcoo in County Fermanagh. This was due to the presence of sensitive habitats and an ASSI (Area of Special Scientific Interest) within the planning boundary. In addition to this work ornithological monitoring for the 2016 breeding season was also required.

The site consists of upland heath, fen, wet grassland and blanket bog. There are two Loughs within the site, Lough Ora which is fringed by wet grassland along part of the shoreline and also bordered by coniferous plantation forestry. Lough Alaban is the other lough on site; the lough is dominated by floating-leaved aquatic plants such as Broad-leaved Pondweed and Yellow Water-lily. The margins of the lough support an extensive floating raft of acid fen. The Lough (and its hinterland) is also designated as an ASSI.

Lough Alaban is designated as an ASSI because of the fen habitat and invertebrate assemblage that the site supports. The latter includes the Irish Damselfly Coenagrion lunulatum and the Argent & Sable moth
Rheumaptera hastata.

As one of the turbines is located on an area of blanket bog (within the ASSI). The role of the EcoW on site was important to ensure that the works at this turbine were undertaken as sensitively as possible. In addition to this, detailed habitat restoration measures were required on the site as part of the HMP (Habitat Management Plan). This work is still on-going.

Our role

Ornithological monitoring was required under Planning Condition 8 of the planning permissiongranted in 2011.

Post construction bird monitoring shall be carried out in years one, three, five and ten. Survey methodology shall be agreed in writing with the Department prior to the commencement of year one surveys. The results of the bird survey shall be submitted to the Department after each year’s surveys and a final report which highlights any population changes shall be submitted in year ten.

Bird Monitoring

The 2016 ornithological surveys commenced on 28 March and were completed on the 07 July. Vantage point surveys and moorland breeding bird transects were used to determine the species on site as well as
recording breeding activity. A hen harrier survey within 2km of the surrounding habitat was also carried out as the site historically had 3 pairs of this species breeding in the wider area.

Meadow pipit, a red-listed species, and skylark, amber-listed, were both abundant on site. A pair of hen harrier were found to be nesting in the surrounding forestry but the location was further than 1km from the nearest turbine and thus was far enough way to avoid disturbance.

Snipe, an amber-listed sensitive species, also breed on the site. There were thought to be (up to) 3 pairs present during 2016; and these were carefully monitored to ensure that nesting was completed and avoid any disturbance during the recommencement of civil works. No work was carried out within 400m of snipe during the breeding season (01 March to 31 August).

Ornithological Mitigation Strategy

The results of the bird monitoring were used to advise on the approach of any work carried out. On-going bird monitoring was required due to the presence of sensitive species (snipe). During late August weekly monitoring was carried out to determine the position of snipe on the site. Early morning and dusk surveys were included. Other species such as meadow pipit required a 50m buffer to prevent disturbance. Work would not be carried out in the vicinity of a sensitive or nesting species. These surveys prevented the birds being disturbed and allowed them to breed successfully on site in 2016.

  • CLIENT Wind farm in County Fermanagh
  • YEAR 2016
  • CATEGORY