Sarah Nicholas, Principal Ecologist at The Ecology Consultancy, was interviewed by RTVi (Russian Television International) for a news segment about the impact of wind farms on ecology. The interview was aired on Friday 23rd October and can be found here (3 minutes into the report). N.B. the broadcast is in Russian.
Sarah explained that if wind farm developments are properly planned through consultation with ecologists then turbines can be sited in locations that have minimal impact on ecology and wildlife.
How can wind farms impact wildlife?
The potential impacts on wildlife from wind farms, both terrestrial and offshore, can include disturbance (noise and visual), loss of habitat, both directly and through sterilisation of an area (e.g. the effective loss of habitat as a result of displacement or avoidance of an area), severance of important commuting or migration routes between key foraging and/or roosting areas and, for birds and bats, collision with turbine blades. The risk and frequency of these impacts increases if wind farms are poorly sited, for example on important migration routes or in areas that are important for feeding, breeding and roosting/nesting. This is why ecologists should be brought in early to carry out ecological assessments during the planning stages of the development to establish potential impacts on wildlife species. Wind farms should, and can be, sited, designed and managed so that there are no significant adverse impacts on important wildlife populations or the habitats they utilise.
Wind farms, wildlife and the long term
Renewable energy schemes, including wind farms, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and thus help combat climate change, a considerable threat to the survival of many species across the world. As well as contributing to climate change, carbon-based fuels can have significant impacts on wildlife as a result of the pollution they generate and through long-term habitat loss to energy plant construction. Wind farms on the other hand, when compared to other forms of energy generating schemes, are a relatively light touch on the environment and, if they do prove to be in the wrong place, operationally or ecologically, they can be dismantled and re-sited and the habitat restored.
Our experience with wind farms
The Ecology Consultancy has been involved in a number of wind farm projects including Dudgeon Wind Farm – Warwick Energy, Sheringham Shoal – SCIRA, Royal Haskoning and currently East Anglia One – Scottish Power.
Case Studies about some of our work can be found here: