A RECORD number of threatened bird species have been spotted close to the site of the former Longannet Power Station.

ScottishPower has completed work on an extensive £4.5m capping and restoration programme at Valleyfield in Fife, which includes a specially designed haven for birds and other wildlife.

Since the restoration of the site, ecologists have recorded one of the largest single flocks of Curlew on the inner Forth at the lagoons, and a flock of over 2,000 pink-footed geese.

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Other species include Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Shelduck and Mallard. Curlew, Dunlin and Ringed Plover have a Red UK conservation status due to their decreasing numbers, which makes the site an invaluable habitat.

Dunfermline Press:

Constructed on reclaimed land from the Forth estuary, the lagoons store residual ash slurry from the coal-fired power generation process.

The Valleyfield Ash Lagoons are included with the Firth of Forth Site of Special Scientific Interest, as they help to support nationally important numbers of passage and wintering wildfowl and waders, such as Curlews and Oystercatchers.

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When the lagoons were capped, following the decommissioning of the power station, Scottish Power worked closely with Fife Council, RSPB Scotland, SEPA, NatureScot and expert ecologists to put together a plan for restoring and managing the site to ensure that it continued to be a haven for these amazing birds.

Work at the wetland area was carried out with a focus on encouraging wading bird species to roost during high tides. Several raised islands and gentle slopes were created to provide shelter from winds and safety from predators.

A safe nesting environment, known as a wader scrape, has been designed and created on one of the lagoons, where salt water is pumped in on a regular and automated basis to keep water levels to design specification and a wind turbine provides the power the pumps need.

Many of the wading birds are in declining numbers at the site will go some way to ensure they brighten our countryside for future generations to enjoy. Viewing areas have also been created so that the public can see the birds without causing any unnecessary disturbance.

Dunfermline Press:

Andrew Ward, CEO Customer Business at ScottishPower said, “Our commitment to environmental stewardship is at the heart of this project. We’ve worked hard to create a haven for biodiversity from the industrial legacy of Longannet.

"This collaboration represents how industry, conservation organisations, and local government can come together for a sustainable future."

One of the key objectives of the project was to cap and seal the lagoons and collaborative efforts saw the use of the colliery shale from the former Comrie Colliery as capping material at Valleyfield, which was an additional positive outcome, benefitting two communities.

From one of the newly installed bird hides, the purpose-built sand martin bank can be viewed and additional seating has been installed for keen ornithologists.

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Toby Wilson, Senior Conservation Officer at RSPB Scotland said they were already seeing large numbers of birds using the site as a high tide roost with numbers expected to rise.

He continued: “RSPB Scotland looks forward to continuing to work with ScottishPower at Valleyfield and other sites to help wildlife thrive on these important post-industrial sites.”

Dunfermline Press:

Dunfermline MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville, added said it was encouraging to see the progress that has been made in recent years to create the sanctuary for wildlife.

"What a great example of how Scotland can build a green, sustainable future by more effectively using sites from our industrial heritage," she added.