Wind farm do not effect most bird populations concludes new study

The study, from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB, is the first of its kind based on bird populations during the construction as well as operation phases of new wind farms. Wind energy developers welcomed the findings.

Rob Norris, Renewable UK spokesman said wind farm developers “carry out stringent Environmental Impact Assessments to examine the effects a wind farm will have on wildlife,” and added that the report should “dispel the longstanding myth about wind turbines damaging birds, and as such it’s very welcome".

The report was published in the April edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology. Scientists from both bodies had monitored ten bird species at 18 wind farms in upland areas of the UK and compared breeding bird densities and population trends before, during, and after wind farm construction.

Their findings suggest that impacts differed among species. For example, populations of red grouse, snipe and curlew numbers declined during construction with red grouse recovering afterwards, unlike snipe and curlews.

In the case of skylarks, numbers soared as the turbines rose, but this could be because turning over the vegetation helped them nest and find food. There was no significant change in the population of lapwings, golden plovers and dunlins.

Jeremy Wilson, head of science at RSPB Scotland said, "It’s not a black and white picture; but this kind of finding is precisely why we get involved in this kind of research."

Wildlife organisations such as RSPB and WWF said they were in favour of development of wind farms as long as they were in the right locations. RSPB had recently objected to only 8% of the 2,100 wind farm cases between 2001 and 2010.