One of BSG Ecology’s current projects has seen Senior Ecologist Hannah Bilston design and implement a bat survey programme for a proposed 20 turbine wind farm in Poland. Hannah joined the BSG team in August 2012 and is based in our Oxford office. The addition of Hannah to the team adds to the existing capability within the practice, particularly with regard to technical bat work, and she brings with her the experience of working on wind farm sites in Bulgaria and Romania as well as in the UK.
The initial step in designing an appropriate survey protocol was a preliminary ecological appraisal. This involved using aerial photography to identify the habitats present and the landscape scale features likely to be used by commuting and foraging bats. In conjunction with this, information on the distribution, migration patterns (where known) and other aspects of the ecology of bat species potentially present was reviewed. Hannah then considered both the recommendations of Polish Bat Survey guidance (published in 2011) and experience gained through surveys for wind farms in the UK and elsewhere in Eastern Europe in drawing up an outline baseline survey programme.
Hannah then visited the site to test the findings of the initial appraisal, confirm transect routes and monitoring locations, and to instruct and train locally based surveyors who had been identified by the client. Over the course of a week she ground-truthed the transects, undertook initial nocturnal surveys, and provided training in bat ecology, transect survey methodology, deployment of static detector and fixed point survey to the team.
The finalised survey programme involves the extensive use of static data loggers to supplement information gained from walked transects, and the programme exceeds the recommendations of the Polish guidance. The level of survey effort being undertaken will allow changes in bat activity over the night and over the season to be assessed in detail, enable site-specific mitigation to be developed. It should also form a robust basis for an ecological assessment. It is currently proposed that a year of baseline work will be completed.
As the fieldwork is completed, our role is to analyse and review the survey data as it comes in. This will allow the identification of localised and seasonal peaks in activity during each night, over periods of the year and at specific locations that will enable adjustments to be made to the programme as necessary. This is a very cost-effective means of quality control, resulting in the client benefiting from BSG Ecology’s technical bat expertise and experience in steering the programme, while using local resources to complete the survey work.
For advice on any ecological issues relating to wind farms, please contact one of our offices.