Waterhead Moor

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Casework type: Energy Site designations: SPA
Hen harrier Circus cyaneus, adult male perched in flight with twig, Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve


The windfarm planned for Waterhead Moor, in Ayrshire would have been so damaging to wildlife that we felt we must oppose it.

We first raised serious concerns about a proposed windfarm at Waterhead Moor with the developer SSE Renewables in 2004 and highlighted the sensitivity of this area throughout pre-and post-application discussions.

The site is east of Largs in North Ayrshire and the majority of the turbines are within Renfrewshire Heights Special Protection Area (SPA), designated for hen harrier under the EU Birds Directive.

The planning application was revised and modified in September 2010, when an application to develop a 72.5MW, 29-turbine windfarm was submitted to Scottish Ministers. We objected to the revised application December 2010 due to impacts on the hen harrier SPA. 


Why is it worth fighting for?

The majority of the proposed windfarm was to be located within an SPA for hen harrier designated under the EU Birds Directive. This proposal would have caused significant harm to the site due to direct habitat loss and displacement of hen harrier

Hen harrier are listed on Annex 1 of the EU Birds Directive and therefore required to be subject to 'special conservation measures'. Hen harrier are also on the 'red list' which are species of the highest conservation priority in the UK needing urgent action. 

 Wind Farm on Slieve Rushen, Co, Fermanagh

Our position

We made it very clear to the developer at the outset that this development would not be appropriate at this location and that alternative sites should be sought instead.

Our concerns were that the windfarm would result in direct habitat loss and displacement of hen harriers from areas of potential foraging and nesting habitat within the SPA.

The development was also predicted to result in collision risk to hen harrier. It could not be concluded that the proposal would not result in an adverse impact on the integrity of the SPA and we therefore objected to the application.


  • October 2011
    The developer announces that they are withdrawing their application for the windfarm stating that the development of the project has faced a range of construction and planning challenges
  • December 2010
    We object to the application based on habitat loss and disturbance to breeding and foraging hen harrier
  • September 2010
    SSE submit a revised application for 29 turbines. The majority of turbines are within the SPA
  • June 2004
    We respond to the scoping report for the proposed windfarm highlighting concerns regarding loss of breeding habitat and disturbance


We strongly welcomed the decision by SSE Renewables to withdraw their application for the windfarm at Waterhead Moor in October 2011. It is very encouraging that they give part of their reason for the withdrawal as being due to the environmental importance of the site.