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RSPB Scotland responds to new offshore windfarm research

Last modified: 15 December 2014

Gannet pair preening on Bass Rock

Image: Andy Hay

New research has suggested that the majority of seabirds are likely to alter their flight paths to avoid collisions with offshore windfarms. 

The study was carried out by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the University of Highlands and Islands’ Environmental Research Institute, on behalf of Scottish Government body Marine Scotland Science.

Researchers found more than 99 per cent of seabirds were likely to avoid sites with turbines on them. However, they also said what affect the windfarms have on some vulnerable species remained unclear. When planning offshore wind farms, it is important to derive robust estimates of the number of birds likely to collide with turbines in order to help the decision making process.

In response to this research, Aedán smith, Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland, said: 'This is a very welcome and good quality piece of work from the BTO. Although there remain major uncertainties for some species, it provides good additional evidence that some seabirds will avoid wind turbines on most of their flights.

'However, the small proportion of flights that result in collision could still result in many thousands of birds being killed each year and could even significantly reduce the total populations of some species.  

'It is therefore vital that individual developments avoid the most important places for seabirds. Impacts on seabirds must be reduced significantly if offshore wind is to realise its full potential of delivering much needed sustainable renewable energy.'

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