Led by Dr Elizabeth Masden from North Highland College UHI’s Environmental Research Institute in Thurso, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, the project aims to develop an avian collision risk model to incorporate variability and uncertainty in estimates of the number of birds likely to collide with wind turbines.
The 12-month study is being funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and is a collaboration between industry, government regulators, non-government organisations and consultants.
The project partners are the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, ScottishPower Renewables, the British Trust for Ornithology, Marine Scotland Science, TÜV SÜD PMSS and RenewableUK. A workshop is planned to ensure further stakeholder involvement in any development of an updated collision risk model.
Speaking about the study, Dr Masden said:
“The wind energy sector has been identified as an industry of strategic national importance. Potential benefits include decarbonising energy supplies, protecting our environment and reducing emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels.
“However, one of the issues associated with offshore wind energy is that wind turbines may be a collision risk to sea birds but there is uncertainty over the magnitude of the risk.
“This uncertainty could have real consequences for the industry, causing potential delays to wind farm projects and impacting on the UK’s ambitious targets for renewable energy production.”