Campaigners fighting against a solar farm on Cumbrae claim 20 endangered and protected bird species exist on and around the proposed site.

Cumbrae Community Council has compiled a list of birds observed on and around the site at Wee Minnemoer since January 2017.

The group, which organised a protest at the site earlier this year, says of the 59 species observed in the area, 20 are on the RSPB’s red and amber lists.

Comsol Energy, in documents submitted as part of the planning application, say a survey undertaken on their behalf found just one red listed species at the site.

John McHenery, vice-chair of CCC, believes the survey undertaken by Comsol only captured a fraction of the true number of bird species that would be affected by the development.

He said: “One of the big worries is that they picked up just one of these birds in the survey, even though we know there are actually 12 red list birds and eight amber list birds at or around that site.

“Some of them show breeding or nesting behaviour, which makes it even more crucial to keep the site as it is.

“The company’s reports mention that more extensive surveys might be needed, but there is no indication any plans are in the works to do this.

“The birds’ presence on the island is well documented by locals, but the consultants who did a desk survey and one visit never picked them up.

“There are a lot of twitchers that come onto the island to spot birds, it’s actually a big part of the tourism here.”

In the application’s environmental report, the presence of red-listed dunlins is noted, but none of the other species mentioned by Cumbrae Community Council, such as skylarks, are included.

The report reads: “There is suitable habitat for nesting, over wintering and foraging birds is present within individual trees, woodland and grassland habitats within the site boundary."

Mr McHenery added: “A number of birds were recorded as present during the survey, including five dunlin which are on the Birds of Conservation Concern red list.

"If they can miss birds, what else are they missing?"

The campaign against the proposed solar farm is growing after more than 350 residents submitted comments, with 98 per cent of those against the plans.

Mr McHenery said that while the island community is not against solar power, residents believe that the site at Wee Minnemoer is not suitable - and that no evidence has been provided to the contrary.

He said: “About a quarter of the island have put in responses, and we are determined to have these logged as individual responses rather than a survey.

“Key questions still remain about the plans that haven’t been answered since the ideas was first put forward seven years ago.

“At the start they didn’t say how power would be taken off the island. Now they have said there are two places they can hook into the national grid.

“However they would have to dig holes or trenches over farmers' land, near houses or the golf course, and when are we seeing the planning permission for that?

“There are still so many concerns that we have and unfortunately the company is just not answering them to our satisfaction.”

A spokesperson for Comsol Energy said: “We have already engaged with an independent company who assessed the site and produced a professional ecological report which showed no evidence of habitation by the birds suggested. 

“The Community Council can be assured that this was a detailed assessment by a reputable and experienced company who undertake such surveys on an almost daily basis.

“In addition, we are preparing a robust response to clarify the misinformation currently circulating regarding the proposed site which will also hopefully further reassure our best intentions for the island and the community.”

The application is expected to come to North Ayrshire Council’s planning committee later this month.