A new wind-ustry guide to show how birds interact with wind farms has been produced by the Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group – which comprises the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland and representatives from the renewable energy sector – including SSE, ScottishPower Renewables, RES and Vattenfall.
The ‘Good Practice Guide’ shows how bird populations, and the habitats on which they depend, can be more effectively managed, as well as the results of work done to date.
More than £50,000 has already been spent on a series of studies and more funding is already earmarked for future studies to help develop the guide.
Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, said: “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 projects, currently being carried out by Stirling and Newcastle Universities, are examining the long-term effects of wind farm developments on birds, habitat management and the methods and techniques used in monitoring and surveying birds.
Professor Colin Galbraith, Chairman of the Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group (SWBSG) stressed the need to work with industry in order to produce guidance that can be put into practice at sites across Scotland. He said:
“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.”
Aedan Smith, RSPB Scotland Head of Planning and Development, added: “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.”
Ian Ross, Chairman, Scottish Natural Heritage, 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.”