99% of seabirds 'avoid turbines'
Gannets unwilling to enter projects, gulls drawn to forage, study reveals
More than 99% of seabirds alter their flight paths to avoid collision with turbines at offshore wind farms, research shows.
The study by Marine Scotland Science for the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Highlands and Islands' Environmental Research Institute also suggests there is a strong difference in species, with gannets unwilling to enter wind farms at all.
Gulls, on the other hand, are far less cautious and the study found they may be attracted by the foraging opportunities, although they still tend to avoid turbines once they are inside a project.
The risk to gannets (pictured) was one of the reasons why RSPB Scotland opposed Holyrood’s consent for four offshore wind farms in October and head of planning Aedan Smith said his organisation was "reasonably comfortable with the science" in the report.
However, he added: "This does not mean that offshore wind farms in the wrong position are not a problem for seabirds. To make a comparison, if you knew that 99 times out of 100 you will be safe crossing a road, you would still be cautious about crossing it."
He said evidence on some bird species was much stronger because they tended to be where existing wind farms are operating. Other birds colonising as yet undeveloped stretches of water may act differently.