Stephanie provides support to onshore wind projects during construction and operational phases associated with birds and wider ecology.
Originally from Germany, Stephanie studied Biology at the University of Cologne but moved to Scotland in 2005, working initially on the north coast. She brings both expertise and passion to her role as Environmental Advisor and an experienced ornithologist who is familiar with the ecology of birds and how wind farms and construction activities may impact on them.
She’s also an expert on general upland ecology, with an understanding of uplands and moorland, the mammals that live there and how their habitats can to be protected.
Much of her work now is concerned with the building of wind farms and the effects of large construction sites on animals and habitats. It’s Stephanie’s job to protect the environment, to make sure that breeding birds are not disturbed, that water supplies are not contaminated by building work, and that trees are not felled needlessly.
But it’s also her role to help contractors and developers, to ensure that they are not in breach of legislation which might jeopardise the progress of their schemes. She’s here to help construction teams understand which species are protected by law, to help them, diplomatically, find a way to move forward and continue with projects, even if that means finding another route.
For example, a construction site for a wind farm access track had a start date of April – which happens to be the start of the bird breeding season. All breeding birds and their nests are protected by law and must not be damaged and need to be protected by exclusion zones to minimise disturbance.
But as Stephanie was able to demonstrate, an exclusion zone of more than 600m as initially outlined in this case was not necessary. By studying reports, researching the ‘disturbance distances’ for a particular species, and working with other ornithologists, she was able to prove that a 200m exclusion zone would be sufficient. Her report was accepted by Scottish Natural Heritage who then gave permission for the construction work to continue.
Stephanie finds her role particularly fulfilling when she can liaise with different parties, bringing them around the same table “and making sure they all know where we are going, and why”.
But most of all she enjoys survey days in the field, observing new behaviour in a species she has seen many times before, and catching sight of her favourites – hen harriers, merlins, peregrine falcons, and the graceful whooper swans.