In August 2013, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) released revised bird survey guidance for onshore wind farms. This represents the first substantial revision of guidance that was first formally issued in late 2005 (minor revisions / amendments were made in 2010). SNH has led the way on this topic in UK terms, and understanding changes in the SNH guidance is therefore very important, as they will be reflected in consultee expectations with regard to survey work throughout the UK.
This article below sets out to identify what the implications are of the main changes between the 2005 and 2013 SNH guidance documents.
It reflects well on SNH that they have issued revised ornithological guidance based on experience gained since 2005. Some sensible changes have been made, and there seems to be an emphasis on ensuring that the quality of baseline data collection and of ornithological assessment continues to improve. Perhaps the main take home message from the revised guidance is that as developers are now looking at more marginal sites, many of which will have ornithological issues (particularly from a cumulative impact perspective), a good ornithological rationale for each site considered is needed. This requires experienced, technically competent ecologists who are able to make reasoned decisions and undertake early engagement with SNH (and other stakeholders) wherever possible. It also needs a good degree of understanding of the inherent difficulties and limitations of survey by all concerned.
For further information or discussion with regard to this article, please contact Owain Gabb .
To access SNH 2013 Bird Survey Guidance please click here.