At ILI Renewable Energy we have had many issues to overcome as part of the planning process for our medium wind developments. These can range from environmental issues to noise restrictions, turbine shadow flicker to visual impact.
One which we come across often is the impact the development will have upon the local bird population so we welcome the news, presented yesterday in Perth that the Scottish wind farm industry is to launch a Guide to protect birds. The Guide will also assist in the plans for future wind farm developments ensuring that best practice is used in both construction and operation on all size of projects.
£50,000 has already been spent on a series of studies by the Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group made up of representatives from the Scottish Government, Scottish National Heritage, The RSPB Scotland, and Scottish Renewables. The partnership will now develop a Good Practice Guide to the management of bird populations and the habitats on which they depend. The Guide will also include the results of the surveys so far.
The threat of bird strikes has been an ongoing difficulty for wind developments and environmental minister Paul Wheelhouse has welcomed the project. “This is an important step forward, demonstrating that the renewables industry and conservation groups are working together to help the conservation of bird populations across Scotland.
“It is particularly encouraging to see the focus from the group to base the guide on real evidence rather than on speculation. By working closely with the industry I am sure they will produce a practical guide for the future.”
The research studies that are currently being carried out jointly by Stirling and Newcastle Universities examine the long-term effects of wind farm developments on birds, habitat management and the methods and techniques used in monitoring and surveying birds.
Speaking prior to the conference Professor Colin Galbraith, Chairman of the SWBSG, stressed the need to work with industry in order to produce guidance that can be put into practice at sites across Scotland.
“The renewables industry is acutely aware of the need to protect the environment and this guide will provide it with additional tools to do this.
“By involving industry and conservation groups in its production, the guide will build on existing monitoring of bird populations and data-sharing initiatives, as well as providing a unique overview and insight into the techniques used to manage habitats for birds around wind farms.”
Representatives from other groups involved in the implementation of the Guide spoke on the eve of the conference about the aims of the project and how they see it benefitting both the wildlife and the industry.
Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, Joss Blamire commented “The SWBSG is a good example of industry and government working pro-actively together to develop ground-breaking research.
“The work of the group will feed into the Good Practice Guide and help industry formulate plans for responsible wind farm developments in Scotland, continuing their role in creating jobs and economic growth while simultaneously benefiting our natural environment.”
Aedan Smith, RSPB Scotland Head of Planning and Development said “The Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group’s proposal to develop a good practice guide is a welcome step forward in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the renewable energy industry in Scotland. It marks good progress for SWBSG, and we look forward to further outputs and continuing to assist the group in its work.”
Scottish Natural Heritage chair Ian Ross said “We are pleased to work with the SWBSG and setting out good practice in this way is extremely useful in helping to have the right development in the right place. It gives the renewables industry as much certainty as possible by providing practical examples of how we can balance environmental, economic and social interests. We are committed to this action in tackling climate change and meeting the future energy needs of Scotland.”
The conference, held at the Battleby Conference Centre near Perth, was presented with some of the recent research undertaken to support the SWBSG, and included workshop sessions where representatives from a variety of conservation groups and from industry discussed current priorities for action. Further funding has been earmarked for the project.
ILI Renewable Energy look forward to the publication of the Good Practice Guide to see what steps can be implemented in order to establish sites which produce clean renewable energy while at the same time protect its surrounding environment and bird population.