The first European conference about onshore wind energy and wildlife impacts took place in Trondheim, Norway, earlier this year. The Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts (CCW 2011) brought together experts from all over the world to share experiences on how wind power affects wildlife.
Recent research on bird collision and wind turbines was presented and discussed, and we have reviewed some of this research as part of our commitment to interpreting and disseminating studies of relevance to practitioners and developers within the wind industry. Such reviews also enable our own impact assessment work to take into account the latest findings and thinking.
This review looks at three post-construction monitoring schemes at onshore wind farms in northern Europe. The research authors studied bird fatalities caused by collisions with wind turbines, looking at the search efficiency of detecting corpses, the species of corpses found and the relationship between turbine number and area.
The level of understanding of bird wind farm interactions is gradually improving through research conducted across Europe. Continued study is important because it helps us to understand different species’ likely responses to turbines, which in turn can help in site selection and in designing wind farms to minimise impacts.
Many of the species identified in the papers we have reviewed occur in the UK and some are birds for which European and internationally protected sites (Special Protection Areas and Ramsar Sites) are designated. Particular consideration should be given to these species and to whether wind farm interactions at particular locations, even at some distance from a designated area, might give rise to significant effects on such protected sites.
There seems to be considerable differences in mortality rates between turbines. This suggests that the micro-positioning of turbines in relation to flight lines could result in changes in anticipated mortality from a given wind farm.
It is worth noting, however, that between the three studies reviewed there are differences in how monitoring studies are set up and their results interpreted. It is important to understand the experimental design of a particular study before impact comparisons can be meaningfully made.
To see our review in full, click on the following link:
For advice on birds and wind farms, please feel free to speak to one of our ornithology specialists:
Owain Gabb (Oxford office)
Matt Hobbs (Monmouth office)
Lesser black-backed gull, Photograph © Copyright Micky Maher
Common tern, Photograph © Copyright Stuart Thomas