Impacts of wind farms on bats: a Practical Approach
14 May 2007, News release from Atkins
They may be environmentally friendly, but sited in the wrong location wind developments can have negative ecological impacts. Atkins is working with clients to choose suitable sites and to assess and mitigate the environmental effects of these schemes.
Bats are the new 'hot' topic in the assessment of the environmental effects of wind developments and Atkins' ecologists are at the forefront of deciphering new guidelines. The aim is to devise a practical approach to surveying and undertaking impact assessments for these legally protected species.
The threat to birds from wind turbines is widely recognised in Europe but evidence is also now emerging that wind farms may have a detrimental impact on bats - through collision with turbine blades, loss of foraging/commuting habitats and disorientation due to ultrasound emissions by wind turbines.
Draft guidelines have recently been published in Europe (EUROBATS - "Wind Turbines and Bats: Guidelines for the planning process and impact assessments") which the UK Wildlife Trust has been heavily involved with and which Natural England may endorse, albeit possibly in a modified form, in the future. The guidelines recommend extensive and frequent surveying, meaning that assessments would take longer increasing client development costs.
Prior to formal adoption of the EUROBATS guidance, Atkins approach takes account of likely future requirements but balances these in a way that is proportional to both the size of the development and the importance of the site in terms of bat usage whilst being sensitive to client budgets and programme.
Currently, our ecologists are in consultation with Natural England and local Wildlife Trust officers as part of an ecological assessment for an nPower wind cluster proposal in South Yorkshire and are agreeing a way forward with respect to bat assessments that can be used as a basis for future projects. This includes a large amount of desk based assessment to focus survey effort where it is needed most.
Our approach will enable a full impact assessment for the site, provide a reference point for future schemes, establish a baseline for assessment and help provide the best possible advice to developers and clients.
Key Contact: Rebecca Hall, Senior Ecologist, Atkins, Planning, Landscape and Heritage Team, Nottingham, 0115 957 4939, firstname.lastname@example.org