West Benhar Wind Energy Project

Partnerships for Renewables is working with the Forestry Commission in Scotland to explore the potential for siting wind turbines in the West Benhar plantation.

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Wind Farms & Birds

A well-designed and well-sited wind farm has a minimal impact on local and migrating birdlife. It is important that developers continue to work hard to maintain this position by working with the relevant statutory consultees and other relevant organisations.

The organisations and bodies developers consult include:

These organisations are consulted at the very beginning of the development process to agree the detail of the bird studies to be carried out during the development work.

Bird studies

Wind turbines can affect birds in three main ways: (a) disturbance, (b) habitat damage/loss, and (c) collision. 

Bird activity in and around the site is investigated during the development process, including identification of nesting sites, flight patterns, migratory routes and feeding grounds. The information gathered is used to ensure that the proposal is designed sympathetically to the local birdlife.

Bird studies often extend over a breeding season and are required to investigate issues such as feeding locations, nesting sites, flight routes, migratory routes and what bird species are present on and around the site. By gathering this data it is possible to incorporate buffer zones around nesting sites and avoid common flight routes. All of the data gathered will be used in conjunction with the information available on the behaviour of the relevant bird species i.e. the height they fly etc.

Once all the study work has been completed it will be included as part of the planning application to be scrutinised by the relevant organisations to ensure that the wind farm is well-designed and well-located in relation to local birdlife.

By going through a thorough and inclusive design process wind farm developments in the UK can maintain their current record of successfully coexisting with birdlife.

RSPB

The RSPB favours a broad mix of renewables, including wind power, wherever they are used in ways that minimise unnecessary damage to wildlife and the natural environment. It believes that renewables targets can be achieved without endangering sensitive wildlife areas, with the right level of appropriate planning, and with good co-operation between developers and conservationists.

In 2004 the RSPB stated in an information leaflet Wind Farms and Birds that "in the UK, we have not so far witnessed any major adverse effects on birds associated with wind farms".

In 2009 an RSPB-commissioned a report from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), Positive Planning for Onshore Wind: Expanding Onshore Wind Energy Capacity While Conserving Nature, called on the UK Government to ensure better and quicker decisions on wind farms, while protecting wildlife. The report states that the UK could greatly increase the number of onshore wind farms without damage to UK wildlife.


Further information

Birdlife International provides guidelines on wind farm selection and environmental assessment in their 'Positioning Statement on Wind Farms and Birds'.

The British Wind Energy Association, English Nature, RSPB and WWF have produced a document called 'Wind Farm Development and Nature Conservation' to offer guidance to nature organisations and developers consulting over wind farm proposals in England.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has produced guidance and information relating to wind farms and birds. 

This information covers five areas:
Bird survey methods for use in assessing the impacts of onshore windfarms on bird communities 
Assessing collision risks
Significance of impacts on birds within or affecting designated areas
Significance of impacts on birds outwith designated areas
Post-construction monitoring of bird impacts  

This information covers five areas:

  • Bird survey methods for use in assessing the impacts of onshore windfarms on bird communities 
  • Assessing collision risks
  • Significance of impacts on birds within or affecting designated areas
  • Significance of impacts on birds outwith designated areas
  • Post-construction monitoring of bird impacts  

This information can be found on the 'Assessing Impacts of Wind Farms on Birds' section of the SNH website.