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.

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.

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.

Are breeding Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata displaced by wind energy developments?

Summary: In 2009 a paper by Pearce-Higgins et al (see previous BSG news and resources bulletin) concluded that operational wind farms had resulted in the displacement of a number of upland breeding bird species.  Since this time, nature conservation consultees have become concerned about displacement effects and the impacts this might have on wader populations.  Curlew, a species identified in the paper as showing a reduction in nesting density at distances of up to 800m from turbines, has been a particular concern, especially in areas (such as upland Wales) where local populations have been subject to considerable declines and are already extremely fragmented.  This has led to requests for large-scale ‘compensatory’ off site habitat management in relation to some wind farm planning applications.

Displacement of birds at operational wind farms: recent papers

Summary: A recent paper in the scientific journal Bird Study summarising the operational effects of the Beinn Tharsuinn wind farm (a Scottish Power scheme) on moorland breeding birds, draws into question the perceived wisdom that densities of golden plover are reduced in close proximity to wind turbines.  A further paper, by Natural Research, on the distribution of curlew around operational wind farms, suggests minimal effects on the distribution and population density of that species, formerly considered to be sensitive to displacement at distances of up to 800m from wind farms.

RenewableUK Cymru

Owain Gabb will be attending Renewables Cymru, which will be held in Cardiff on 26th May 2011.  Should you have any ecological or ornithological queries, Owain will be more than happy to answer them, or to direct you to someone at BSG who can do so.  We hope to see you there.

For further information visist: www.renewable-uk.com

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.