Feed-in Tariff Single Wind Turbine Developments

The UK Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT), an initiative to provide incentives to people who generate renewable energy to feed some of the electricity back into the National Grid, has generated a lot of interest amongst developers and landowners. In particular, single wind turbine developments are now proving to be very popular but, as with any development, the erection of even a single wind turbine can potentially have impacts on the environment, including ecology.

The thorny question of bats in trees

Locating bat roosts in trees is challenging. If you are very lucky “chittering” may be heard from a tree hole at sunset just before bats emerge, however, trees roosts are typically difficult to identify and cannot be reliably assessed from checks at ground level alone.

An aerial bat roost inspection, a technique which involves ascending a tree using ropes, allows for detailed checks of cavities on a tree for any evidence of bat activity to be carried out using torches, endoscopes and other specialised equipment. Often features which look potentially suitable for roosts when viewed from the ground can be ruled out on close inspection. Because it is often more definitive, an aerial inspection can reduce the amount of conventional dawn/dusk activity surveys required to assess trees with roosting potential and if any further survey is required it can be targeted much more effectively. Aerial survey is therefore a very useful and cost-effective technique for tree survey for bats.

BSG has been carrying out tree climbing surveys since 2007, all surveys being carried out by licenced bat workers qualified to climb trees. We are used to working closely with arboricultural consultants and tree surgeons.

Training course:

We also provide a bespoke “bats and trees” training course which can be tailored to the needs of tree surgeons, site management staff, arboricultural consultants and local authority tree officers. The course provides guidance on assessing the potential of trees for bat roosts, and dealing with the practicalities of the legal protection afforded to bats.

The course is run by Principal Ecologist Guy Miller . Please contact Guy in our Derbyshire Office (01433 651869) if you are interested in receiving training, or if you would like to talk about commissioning an aerial tree survey.

New bat survey guidance for wind farms: what does it mean?

When the Bat Conservation Trust’s (BCT’s) “Bat Survey Guidelines” were published in 2007, wind farms were excluded because there was little knowledge or experience of surveying to inform a wind farm proposal. The guidance documents that did exist (principally the “Eurobats” guidance and Natural England’s guidance notes (TIN051 and TIN059)) are quite open-ended with regard to survey methods and effort and there are discrepancies between them.

Bats forage over the sea; implications for off-shore wind farms?

A recent research paper from Sweden has confirmed that resident and migratory species of bats will fly off-shore to forage where there is a plentiful food supply. Of particular note, bats were recorded investigating an off-shore wind farm and even resting on turbines. Although the research is specific to the Swedish coast it does raise questions about whether similar behaviour is being exhibited elsewhere off the coast line of northern Europe. This research, linked to data relating to migration of Nathusius Pipistrelle bat between the UK and northern continental Europe, raises questions as to whether large off-shore wind farms should assess potential impacts on bats.

Wind farms, bat and bird survey guidance

The spring and summer bird and bat survey seasons are approaching fast, and surveys for these species are seasonally constrained.

There have recently been changes to the suggested approach to wind farm bird survey in England, with the publication of Natural England (NE) guidance in early 2010.  Potential impacts on bats – very much the emerging issue with regard to terrestrial wind farms – have to date been difficult to assess due to the lack of standard survey guidance and limited information on bat populations.

BWEA31, Liverpool

BSG will be exhibiting at BWEA’s (British Wind Energy Association) 31st annual conference and exhibition in Liverpool in October. The event focuses on developments in wind, wave and tidal energy, and small wind systems, and is attended by a wide range of organisations with an interest in renewable energy. Guy Miller and Matt Hobbs from our dedicated renewables team will be manning the stand during the conference and will be available to discuss birds, bats and any other ecology issues.

 

UK bat conference workshop

Dr Peter Shepherd and Judy Stroud will present a workshop on ‘Mitigation for Roosts in Buildings’ at the Bat Conservation Trust National Bat Conference, September 2009. The workshop will look at information from a recent review of EPS licence returns and questions raised by this, along with trying to set out some key principles and objectives for mitigation of roosts in buildings.