Avian lovers and the wind power industry both received some good news recently when a group of scientists from Newcastle University reported that there was likely little potential impact from turbines on the farmland birds they studied.
“This should be welcome news for nature conservationists, wind energy companies and policy-makers”, the report said, adding that carbon-free wind power is also helping to fight global warming.
When wind power was in its infancy three decades ago, citizens and advocacy groups raised concerns that endlessly whirling turbines could kill massive numbers of birds.
The siting of some early wind farms, especially on migratory routes in the United States, did result in an unusually high number of bird deaths. However, much has been done since then to make wind farms far less threatening to avian species.
This improvement was supported by the UK scientists in the recent Journal of Applied Ecology report.
Mark Whittingham, the study team leader, later told the Telegraph “this is the first evidence suggesting that the present and future location of large numbers of wind turbines on European farmland is unlikely to have detrimental effects on farmland birds.”
The study said the 16 East Anglia wind turbines did not effect the distribution of four groups of wintering farmland birds (seed-eaters, corvids, gamebirds and Eurasian skylarks). Monitoring the four groups at differing distances from the turbines, the study found no evidence to suggest the birds avoided areas near the machines. It added that the probability of locating common pheasant, the largest and least manoeuvrable species, increased as the distance from a turbine became greater.
As a firm proponent of research and science, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is pleased with the Newcastle study. It reinforces our position that the wind power industry can provide greater quantities of non-polluting, local, sustainable, affordable energy sought after by the world’s growing population without harming the environment.
The study also acknowledges that the rapidly increasing amount of electricity generated by EU wind power is helping to fight global warming.
“Global climate change has resulted in worldwide calls for ‘renewable’ energy sources to reduce carbon emissions. Wind power provides the largest share in the renewable energy sector in Europe.”
While that welcome shift to wind power continues, EWEA will continue to promote the use of scientific studies and engineering advances to help reverse the CO₂ damage caused by more than a century of fossil fuel emissions.
07 October 2008