Wind turbine and birds

Jane attended the Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group (SWBSG) Event last week on developing good practice for wind farms alongside birds.

The SWBSG is made up of representatives from the Scottish Government, SNH, Scottish Renewables and RSPB Scotland. The group is working to develop a common understanding of the issues relating to impacts of onshore wind turbines on birds. In particular they are involved in developing a data catalogue through partnership with developers as the foundation for their research programme.

The workshop provided a great opportunity to hear presentations on the latest SWBSG commissioned research and to contribute to future Best Practice Guidance being proposed by the group.

Dr Jeroen Minderman of the University of Stirling presented a study into the efficacy of bird survey methodologies (with a focus on Brown and Shepherd and flight activity surveys) in detecting change in bird populations pre and post construction. The research attempts to produce a model to assess survey power in order to provide a more robust statistical analysis of bird survey results. The model takes into account such parameters such as detectability with distance (based on species), number of surveys and variation in surveyor.

Similarly, researchers from Newcastle University have been looking into observer error in flight activity surveys and found a large variation between surveyors was detected at distances of only 164m. Current guidelines (SNH 2013) recommend surveyors can survey airspace up to 2km away. An overview of habitat management on Scottish onshore windfarm sites was also presented to form the basis of discussion into best practice management for wind farm sites.

Workshops in the afternoon generated lively discussion into issues which would be included in the proposed Best Practice Guidelines – including cumulative impact assessment, habitat management and the guidance itself in terms of it’s scope and content. Developers and consultants were encouraged to become involved with the SWBSG either through the provision of funding, data sharing or through consultation on the Best Practice Guidelines.

To contact one of the Baker Consultants ornithology team please email survey@bakerconsultants.co.uk or for specific Scotland enquiries contact Jane Forrest on scotland@bakerconsultants.co.uk

For more information on the group, email Claire Lacy, Data and Research Coordinator at SWBSG, at info@swbsg.org