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.
In relation to bats Dr Shepherd covered the history (and current state of knowledge) of bat collision at turbines, which was first researched in detail in North America, the relative risks to different UK species, the issues associated with assessing impacts on bats at wind farms and mitigation options. He went on to discuss how bats have featured at wind farm Public Inquiries, focusing on schemes for which they have been a key issue in the determination process.
Owain Gabb outlined the current understanding of impacts upon bird populations, including evidence from post-construction studies of collision mortality and displacement. The relative paucity of detailed and appropriately focused post-construction monitoring remains an issue, and requires ecological consultants to draw together information from across Europe when considering likely impacts. He went on to discuss the reasons why ornithological concerns have featured at Public Inquiries in the UK, and the reasons why they may do so in the future.
Dr Shepherd said “I was delighted that BSG Ecology was asked to address the Planning Inspectorate, which I feel reflects our significant involvement in wind farm public inquiries over the last 5 years. The meeting was very interesting and questions from the assembled inspectors were, as you might expect, challenging and detailed. I hope we have helped those present to develop a better understanding of the issues”.