New study on windfarms shows impact on birds

A new study shows that some birds thrive in windfarm conditions, while others dwindle

Published: April 12th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

A major study into whether windfarms affect birds in the long term has produced some surprising results. Conservationists who carried out the study found that onshore windfarms are not causing long-term damage to bird population.
However it also highlighted strong, new evidence that some species are actually harmed during the construction process.
The team – made up of four naturalists and ornithogolists – looked at the 10 key species of British upland bird. They found that while the large majority can co-exist or even thrive once the windfarms are operating, other species were in fact at risk of a huge population decrease while the farms were being put together.
Speaking to The Guardian, Martin Harper, the RSPB’s UK conservation director said: “It shows that there can be serious species-level impacts in the construction phase, so construction in the right place is absolutely key. But what it hasn't shown is that windfarms are 'bird blenders'. There is no impact from the turning of the blades”.
The most shocking figures were those regarding the curlew, Britain’s largest wader. Curlew numbers fell by 40% in a radius of up to 800m during construction at the 18 farms in the study, in northern England and Scotland. Numbers remained low when construction was finished, due to them fleeing their nests.
A finding that counteracted this was the discovery that stonechats and skylarks actually flourished during building, preferring broken and short vegetation.
To read the rest of the study, go to the Journal of Applied Ecology.

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