Removal of wind turbine at Richborough ‘will mean loss of nesting Peregrine Falcons and Ravens’

A pair of Peregrines are nesting at the turbine Photo Keith Ross

A Thanet nature expert says the removal of a wind turbine at the Richborough Power Station site will destroy the nesting site of a pair of breeding Peregrines and Ravens.

The turbine is to be removed as part of works for a battery storage facility at the site off Sandwich Road which was approved by Thanet council last year.

Photo Nik Mitchell

Planning documents say: “The wind turbine located within the western zone of the site will be removed along with the associated hard standing and single storey control building as part of the proposed works.

“The proposed battery storage facility will be delivered through the placement of 201 shipping container sized blocks, each housing the batteries with associated equipment which will store electricity when there is a surplus in the network. Power will be distributed back in to the national grid through a connection with the existing National Grid owned Richborough 400kV substation.”

But Nik Mitchell, of Wildlife Conservation in Thanet, says it will mean the loss of the birds which have been nesting at the turbine for a number of years.

He said: “In 1989 history was made when a 1mw wind turbine was installed and became the biggest anywhere in the UK. After serving a short life of about 7 years, it’s been standing redundant as a landmark and piece of history for nearly 30 years,

“There are now plans to remove this iconic turbine. With the boom in the wind industry, you think it would be given listed status.

“The turbine is actually home to a pair of breeding Peregrines and Ravens that have been nesting in it for many years. I am absolutely disgusted, and so are many other people, that the nest site of such special birds will be taken down leaving them with nowhere to go.

Photo Keith Ross

“Ravens and Peregrines call the wind turbine home and nest in it. These are incredibly special birds and the turbine is an ideal nest site. Peregrines are the fastest animal in the whole world reaching speeds of close to 200mph. Seeing them in high-speed pursuits around Sandwich Bay is something quite special.

“Ravens are amazing birds and special to Ramsgate because Ramsgate as a name has its earliest reference as ‘Ramisgate’ or ‘Remmesgate’ in 1275. This is from Anglo-Saxon ‘Hraefn’s geat, or ‘Raven’s cliff gap’, later to be rendered ‘Ramesgate’ from 1357.

“Although back in November 2017, an artificial nest box was installed for the Peregrines due to the planned removal of the turbine, the birds have never used it and probably never will.

“Many people will be sad to see this historic landmark go and its incredibly sad that our Peregrine and Ravens will be lost.”

Photo Keith Ross

The planning documents on behalf of Sheaf Energy Ltd – now owned by Pacific Green Technologies, Inc.- say: “The move to a renewable-based energy network is an important part of the UK achieving its Net Zero status. The use of battery storage to support this is a key component of the future of the national grid.

“Coupled with the adjacent and approved 50 MW battery scheme, the site has the ability to have a significant contribution to the reliability and use of renewable energy in the region.”

Photo Keith Ross

The works are the third phase of the battery storage scheme, following approval of Phase 1 in February 2021 and Phase 2 in April 2021.

An ecological report submitted with the now approved application noted the presence on site of the pair of Peregrine falcons.

Photo Keith Ross

Peregrines are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It is an offence to intentionally disturb protected species during the breeding season without a valid licence.

Design and construction at the site was due to begin this year with the battery park due to start its 35 year operating life in April 2025.

Christo Hammes, of Sheaf Energy Ltd, said the firm has been aware of the presence of Peregrines and Ravens since purchasing the site a year ago and have created an exclusion zone around the turbine to reduce disturbance.

Environmental advisors have also been used to examine the issue. Mr Hammes said: “We have been advised there are three Peregrine Falcons in the area but they (advisors) have categorically said they are not nesting (no chicks in nest).”

Mr Hammes says there are plans to bring the turbine down in the coming months but it is hoped the birds will use the nesting box previously installed on the western part of the site.

That western area of the site will also be allowed to go back to nature, reducing the footprint of the Sheaf Energy project.

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24 Comments

  1. Why is TDC allowing this to happen there must be room elsewhere for this battery site is that area a national conservation area for wildlife it would make sense the turbine is iconic leave it alone.

    • What legal planning grounds have they got to stop them demolishing an old wind turbine that won’t just be overturned on appeal ?

    • They could put it on the site of Manston airfield.
      There are nearly 500 a test of brownfield site doing nothing.

    • I don’t think this is anything to do with Thanet council, the turbine belongs to the National Grid doesn’t it?

  2. why dont they just remove the blades and leave the tower for these rare birds , they are already doing enough damage with thier construction work , it wouldnt hurt to put something back. not everyone is led by greed

  3. Quite frankly this beggars belief.
    We’ve got “Conservationists” telling us that working wind turbines are killing birds willy nilly. Now we must save the derelict eyesore home of an apex predator which is killing all the small mammals and birds which the C people also want to conserve (Yes I know all about ecosystems!🙄).
    Yet none of this ecological jewel even existed three and a half decades ago.
    Which just goes to prove the old adage, “Nature will always find a way!” Regardless of Ecologists, conservationists, oil drillers, aircraft, etc.
    Just get on with it! Look at how the hoverport has rewilded.

  4. Maybe this explains why I keep seeing Ravens flying over my daughter’s house on the Ash levels. I only thought they nested on the cliffs between Dover and Deal.
    Yes, we should preserve this wind turbine, maybe with the sails removed.
    After all, we preserve much older windmills, which were cutting edge in their day.
    It would be nice to think that ” nature will find a way” and that wildlife will just adjust to all we humans do.
    But they don’t.
    We only have Peregrines still around because we realised that certain farming chemicals were making their egg shells too thin.
    So we didn’t just carry on poisoning them, we stopped that particular chemical being used. They would not have “found a way” to survive otherwise.

  5. I am surprised there aren’t some crested newts or turnstones in the long grass. There is always one green reason or another for stopping progress. Let’s have the batteries and the backup power system, we will need it for all the heat pumps that are going to be installed.

  6. How much room does this tower take up on the ground? Not a lot by the look of it. Leave it in place and put the batteries somewhere else, along side, just redraw the plans. If these birds cannot be disturbed through threat of law then find another place for the site. Too much development going on anyway.

  7. I can understand the concern as a nesting site, but… There’s a pole mounted nesting box of similar height only about 150 metres away that was installed to account for the loss of tall structures when the cooling towers went and, passing the site every day morning and night, on the train, the peregrines very regularly roost on any one of several light towers that used to illuminate the power station exchange siding opposite the now derelict Richborough Power Station Signalbox…which could very easily host something with a bit of repurposing.

    It lifts my heart when I see them, but I suspect they’ll adapt as they have done before.

  8. Battersea power station developers created a bespoke tower and nest box for the peregrines. The same should be done here

  9. These birds have wings and will just fly to another abode like humans do when we move, as for nesting – birds like to mate like humans do so they will still mate and make another nest, you won’t stop humans or animals mating. The only big difference between humans and animals is only humans are constant moaners.

    • Absolutely!😂👏👌
      And look at the size of the roofspace, etc. on the new buildings. Who knows what opportunities these will present for birds.
      As for pylons… My workplace on the Westwood Industrial Estate has pylons running through it. You should hear the birdsong and watch the birds sitting there having a good time. Not to mention the nightingales nesting next door. There’s far more wildlife in industrial estates and airports than there are in housing estates.

  10. Let’s blame TDC again. Especially as it comes under Dover District Council!
    Get rid and install other poles and nests for them.
    Loads of birds, buzzaeds etc being displaced by building on grade A agricultural land in thanet. No one seems to care.

  11. As (probably)the last man standing of the organisation who authorised the wind turbine’s planning permission back in 1984/5 (I cannot remember when exactly), it would be nice if it could be refurbed and earning its corn as a wind turbine generating electricity.It is a bit expensive as a loft for peregrines and ravens.I am surprised that the two species get along together.Our infrastructure sytem is a crock.It takes far too long to get approvals.The thing only generated electricity for 7 years which is nearly as long as it took to get permission and build it. The wind farm at Lydd took 10 years, yes that’s right TEN years! To plan and build.
    The reason why the undersea cable and interconnector are being slated for Thanet, is because another bunch of NIMBYs in Suffolk are kicking off because the national grid want to build some giant pylons there, and this is the alternative.Sir Roger G ought keep his nose out, because while he is whingeing about this project, he is quite happy to boost Manston, which is just up the road.
    When everyone starts banging on about using brownfield sites, well this is one.It was the marshalling yard for coal deliveries to the power station.It was meant to use coal from the Kent coal field, but it had to mixed with other coal.
    I want to see nature thrive, but I also want to see green energy prosper.
    I think there will have to be a compromise with a new home being built for the birds.Mind you if Manston really does start operating, no bird will put up with that bracket.Mind you seeing is believing on that one.

  12. There’s an article on BBC news on tidal power and for once it seems that the UK is leading the race to create a viable tidal project.At the moment it is small scale and more expensive than wind,solar,or even nuclear,but it does offer reliable base load power (when the wind drops and sun is in the clouds),but will probably drop in price and will be cheaper to decommision compared to nuclear.
    It appears to answer the alleged power reliability problem that critics of green energy never cease to mention.

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