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.

Hen harriers and livestock

New research by the RSPB has shown that hill farming plays a key role in assisting the fortunes of the hen harrier, one of Britain’s most threatened birds. This new study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, illustrates how getting the grazing regimes in upland areas right, can deliver major benefits for this species.

Pond and wildlife Historic Gardens

Historic landscapes such as parks and formal gardens have an important function for the conservation of biodiversity in Britain because they provide habitats for a range of protected species such as great crested newt, bats, badger, barn owl and water vole. In some cases the features that gardens and parklands provide, such as ancient trees and ponds, are no longer common features of the British Countryside and consequently historic landscapes have become increasingly important for the protection of British wildlife.

Natural England licensing conference

Dr Peter Shepherd was recently invited to make a short presentation to Natural England’s Wildlife Management Advice and Licensing Conference in Gloucestershire. He was asked to give an insight into the role of the ecological consultant in working with European Protected Species. “It was a little daunting, as a consultant, to be presenting to the massed ranks of the regulatory licensing authority, but the talk was well received and some useful views were exchanged. The need for a greater evidence base to support mitigation and compensation proposals was one of the items highlighted as being required in future.”

Turning buildings into bird-friendly habitats

Buildings are important for several well-known bird species: swifts, house martins, swallows, house sparrows, starlings, barn owls and even peregrine falcons.  In the past, birds have been able to exploit opportunities left by traditional building practices and imperfect workmanship. Nesting birds depend on particular features of buildings such as cavities and crevices and access into eaves. By working together, ecologists, architects and planners can ensure that new developments offer wildlife opportunities within new buildings.

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.

 

Changes to the Habitats Regulations (Jan 2009)

The Conservation (Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994 have been amended again, with the new regulations coming into force at the end of January. The main changes affecting ecologists and developers are that the guidance notes provided by the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations will now have legal force and will have to be taken into account by the courts.

Woolley judgement; Background

This judicial review case addresses how local planning authorities (LPAs) discharge their statutory duty under Regulation 3(4) of the Conservation Regulations (1994) to have regard to the requirements of the Habitats Directive in the exercise of their functions. The case focuses on how LPAs should approach the discharge of this duty in coming to planning decisions and in particular the need to properly consider the three tests set out in the Conservation Regulations that should be considered when harm to European Protected Species (EPS) is likely.