Winwick Wind Farm: Baseline Survey, Impact Assessment & Public Inquiry

Background

In July 2012 planning permission was obtained for a six turbine wind farm near the of village Winwick, Northamptonshire. BSG Ecology (BSG) provided ecological advice and support to the developer, E.ON, throughout the planning process.

Our role in the project

BSG devised the scope and delivered the baseline ornithological and ecological surveys necessary to inform the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Permission was refused by Daventry District Council (on cultural heritage grounds) and the proposal was the subject of a planning appeal in April 2012, for which BSG Ecology provided expert witness advice.

Baseline data and assessmentWinwick

Baseline survey work commenced in 2008. The first stage of the work involved a desk study and extended phase 1 habitat survey. Ornithological work included vantage point and breeding bird surveys. A range of bat survey including walked transects, remote survey and roost survey was undertaken; survey work for great crested newt and badger was also carried out.

This data was used to inform ecological and ornithological impact assessment for the project. During the assessment BSG provided expert advice to Entec (now Amec), who were responsible for co-ordinating the EIA.

Public inquiry

Although Natural England and Daventry District Council did not raise impacts on biodiversity as a reason for objection, a Rule 6¹ party did, primarily in relation to the level of survey effort for bats and, as such, the validity of the impact assessment.

The possible impact on bats was identified by the Inspector as an issue for consideration at the inquiry. BSG Partner, Dr Peter Shepherd, gave evidence to the inquiry on bats on behalf of E.ON the appellant; a range of technical points were discussed during the inquiry, including the retrospective application of survey guidance and the need for monitoring bat activity at height.

In his report, the inspector concluded that he was “satisfied that the survey work [for bats] and subsequent analysis was proportionate” and “that the proposals accord with the Section 11 (Conserving and enhancing the natural environment) of the Framework [the NPPF] regarding bat ecology. The effect on bat ecology, subject to agreed conditions, would be acceptable.”

The appeal decision, which provides useful comment with regard to survey effort, in particular surveying at height, is reviewed in detail in BSG’s accompanying view point article.

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¹ Rule 6 Parties are those who wish to appear at an inquiry and are required by the Secretary of State, under Rule 6 of the inquiry rules, to provide a statement of case and proofs of evidence.

Winwick Wind Farm: Baseline Survey, Impact Assessment & Public Inquiry – Project Profile

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