The Thames Estuary was to have been the location for the 240-megawatt phase two of the giant London Array offshore wind project. Unfortunately for those developers and investors involved, it was already the location of the red-throated diver.
The diver (or “loon”) is on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ “amber list” due to a declining population in recent years. Uncertainty over the impact of phase two on this fragile species was cited as one of the main reasons for its cancellation.
The Thames Estuary is a designated “environmental special protection area” and any threats to this status have to be carefully examined. It was estimated that evidence regarding any effect on rare birds would have taken until 2017 to gather – with no guarantee that phase two would then be allowed to proceed.