Revised SNH Guidance for Bird Survey at Onshore Wind Farms: What are the implications?

In August 2013, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) released revised bird survey guidance for onshore wind farms.  This represents the first substantial revision of guidance that was first formally issued in late 2005 (minor revisions / amendments were made in 2010).  SNH has led the way on this topic in UK terms, and understanding changes in the SNH guidance is therefore very important, as they will be reflected in consultee expectations with regard to survey work throughout the UK.

What is an appropriate level of ecological work to support a single (large) turbine application?

There has been a considerable rise in the number of single turbine proposals over the past few years.  This has come about primarily as a result of the introduction of Government feed-in tariffs, which have provided incentives to develop single turbine schemes.  Despite the incentives, these small schemes generally have a limited budget if they are to be viable development propositions and sources of renewable energy.

Post-construction ecological monitoring at wind farm sites

Post-construction monitoring has been undertaken at wind farms in the UK for many years, and is now routinely requested for many multiple-turbine schemes.  Despite this, relatively few UK monitoring studies have contributed significantly to our understanding of the ways in which birds and bats may be impacted by wind farm developments: for example with regard to the collision and displacement of birds, information still has to be pieced together using a wide range of sources.

Presentation to Public Inspectors

Dr Peter Shepherd and Owain Gabb were invited by the Planning Inspectorate to give presentations on ecological issues arising from wind energy proposals to a two day conference of planning inspectors in Bristol on the 24th and 25th January 2013. The presentation covered the range of ecological issues that have featured at planning inquiries into wind farm developments between 2005 and 2010, but focused primarily on issues relating to impacts on bats and birds.

BSG Ecology at RenewableUK, Glasgow (Stand 67)

BSG Ecology is exhibiting at Stand 67 of Renewable UK, Glasgow between 30th October and 1st November 2012. The conference is at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Glasgow and will address policy, development and technical aspects of UK onshore and offshore wind energy, wave and tidal energy.

The Delaware Shorebird Project

In May 2012 Ruth Walker, an Ecologist from our Derbyshire office in Hathersage, travelled to Delaware Bay in the United States to make an international contribution to an important conservation initiative for red knot and other waders.  Ruth, who specialises in ornithology for BSG, is a bird ringer and here she provides a summary of this impressive conservation project.

Re-igniting the debate about waders and wind farms: a new paper

The latest in a series of papers looking at impacts of windfarms on upland waders was recently published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.  This paper, by Pearce-Higgins, Stephen, Douse & Langston, aims to draw together monitoring data from wind farms in unenclosed  upland habitats in the UK in order to to determine whether there is evidence that breeding densities of upland birds are reduced as a result of wind farm construction or operation. 

Disturbance and increased visitor pressure impacts on internationally designated sites

Internationally designated sites such as Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar Sites can have ramifications for development and other activities a long way beyond their immediate boundaries. Where these sites might be affected, impact assessment and decision making is sometimes highly precautionary, meaning that activities many miles removed from these sites can and do come under the closest scrutiny.

Dr Peter Shepherd presents paper at RenewableUK

The two part presentation can been viewed here: Part 1 & Part 2

BSG was once again present at our stand at the RenewableUK conference this year in Manchester. Dr Peter Shepherd presented a paper to the conference session on ecological evidence titled “A Review of Ecological Issues at Wind Farm Public Inquiries”.

The Egmond aan Zee Offshore Wind Farm: a short summary of the results of ornithological monitoring

A major conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts was held at Trondheim, Norway in May 2011.  This event brought together many of the leading international researchers on wind farm-wildlife interactions.  BSG is in the process of collating and reviewing many of the studies that are most pertinent to the UK.  This process helps us to keep improving our assessment work, and allows us to disseminate our findings and thoughts to our clients and other interested parties.