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

Worton Park Ringing Report 2010

BSG have been catching and ringing birds at the Oxford office since February 2010.  This work has been undertaken with permission from Worton Farms, and is carried out by appropriately licensed and experienced bird ringers (led by Owain Gabb).  All data collected is supplied to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).  The information is therefore available to be used in scientific research projects, while the ringing study provides training opportunities for some of BSG’s ecologists and detailed information to the farm on their local bird community.

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.

Biodiversity and the Built Environment

Integrating biodiversity into the built environment is an ever more important element of sustainable design. Policy guidance directs planning authorities to expect biodiversity benefit in new developments. Where space is at a premium the fabric of the built environment itself can be used to make cost-effective gains for biodiversity.

Ecology Consultancy Services to Local Authorities

Baker Shepherd Gillespie (BSG) has worked with local authorities for fourteen years, developing an extensive portfolio. Over this time our nationwide team of over thirty ecologists has widened and deepened its understanding of local authority needs in an ever-changing administrative, funding and policy environment.

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.

A new office – a new Director

We have recently appointed Kirsty Kirkham as the new Director for our Derbyshire office, which has also relocated to new offices at Hathersage, in the heart of the Peak District but also on the doorstep of both Sheffield and Manchester.