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Birds take flight from turbines

APEM survey finds more Northern Gannets avoid offshore projects than thought 

Birds take flight from turbines image

Research by environmental consultancy APEM has found that fewer Northern Gannets collide with offshore wind turbines than previously thought.

Aerial surveys carried out on behalf of Vattenfall and Scottish Power Renewables at an unnamed offshore wind farm off the coast of England found a collision avoidance factor of 99.5% compared with 98% previously. 

APEM used its Vulcanair Observer twin-engine aircraft flying at over 300 metres to collect high-resolution digital images using a Shearwater II camera system developed by the consultancy.

The work took place during the Gannets' autumn migratory season and recorded 336 birds in total, with only eight found in the wind farm area. 

“The gannets had minimum recorded approach distances of 443 metre and 359 metres away from the nearest turbine within and outside the footprint, respectively, thus demonstrating that gannets avoid the close vicinity of wind farms,” APEM said.

APEM associate director and head of ornithology Mark Rehfisch said: “The conclusions of the study, showing that fewer birds will collide with wind farms, means that earlier assessments have been overly precautionary. 

“The lessened risk will mean more favourable outcomes for renewable energy firms seeking consent for wind farms, providing more opportunities for the creation of clean, renewable energy, and once again demonstrating the importance of good quality science.”

Image: APEM

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