Susan writes: I’m at a fascinating conference in Norway, so I’d thought I’d share some of the findings so far. It throws up some interesting questions.
The conference is hosted by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and is called Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts. There are more than 300 delegates from 30 countries, mostly European but also some from US, Japan, Iran, South Africa and Japan.  It seems we share many similarities in the challenges of gathering data (both pre and post-construction) and assessing impacts.

Today’s presentations were on three themes: EIAs and site selection, pre and post construction monitoring and fatality studies.

In the first instance the importance of involving ecological considerations in the site selection process is crucial, most of our clients don’t bring us in until this has been done and it was agreed that delays and last minute surprises would in most cases be avoided (and a great deal of money saved) if some obvious issues were dealt with sooner.

There are a great many gaps in our knowledge about the impact of wind farms on wildlife, we are having to make impact assessments without adequate data and this is problematic.

It has been reassuring to see how much research is underway but it will be a long time before it is published. Also, not much of this research is happening in the UK which means that we will have to continue to extrapolate data from unfamiliar landscapes and from species that don’t occur here.

A notable exception is Simon Pickering’s work at Avonmouth – hugely impressed that not only is he conducting post development monitoring but that he also has the support of a cross-agency committee for the project. A double whammy!

Finally, a hugely successful project to reduce bird mortality at a large Spanish wind farm – vulture restaurants. I have the address and am making a reservation!

I have attached a picture of a nice street in Trondheim, Nedre Bakklandet, is down at fjord level but most of the city is piled up on the hills which is why you need – the bicycle lift!

I will try and do another tomorrow night but I have a late finish as will be on a beaver safari!

Are you a planner? Do you fully understand your legal obligations regarding protected species legislation?

You are invited to attend a half-day training seminar on Wednesday 18th May in Sheffield, run by Environmental lawyer Penny Simpson.

CarlosCanoeFeatureBaker Consultants appoints a new technical director

As the planned expansion of the business continues (end of year results reported an increase in turnover of 90%), Baker Consultants can announce that the core team is to be expanded by the appointment of Carlos Abrahams.

Carlos will join the management team later this month and take up the post of Technical Director. Formally a senior consultant at URS, Carlos is considered to be one of the industry’s leading figures with over 20 years’ professional experience. An ecologist in the true sense of the word, he has a broad range of skills as well as a research interest in “draw-down” zones and is currently working towards a PhD through publication.

The Supreme Court yesterday published the judgement on Morge v Hampshire County Council and in doing so has provided some useful comment and clarification relating to European protected species and the Habitats Directive.

The Supreme Court has published the judgement on Morge (FC) (Appellant) v Hampshire County Council (Respondent).

This judgement has been eagerly anticipated by the ecology industry as the case addressed two key issues relating to the European protected species (in this case bats):

The first issue relates to the meaning of obligation under the Habitats Directive to prohibit “deliberate disturbance”, while the second concerns the scope of the obligation on planning authorities to have regard to the requirements of the Habitats Directive.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal (4:1 majority) and in doing so has provided some useful comment and clarification on these contentious issues.

The full judgement is attached or can be found at http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/index.html

UKSC_2010_0120_Judgment

We have already started receiving inquiries for training courses on the SM2 and have now opened the list for pre-registration.

A recent appeal decision has emphasized the need for reliable technical equipment during surveys…

 

Baker Consultants has been pioneering the use of a new SM2 remote sensing bat detector having identified the risks associated with technical reliability.

Now, a recent appeal decision has emphasised these risks after equipment failure lead to gaps in and a lack of reliable data in bat surveys and resulted in serious criticism of the reliability of evidence to the inquiry. The lack of full data contributed to the wind farm being refused planning permission.

See pages 31-32 of the attached Appeal Decision Notice for further details.

Little-Linton-Farm-Decision