Baker Consultants

Susan visits conference on wind energy and wildlife in Norway

Susan writes: "I’m at a fascinating conference in Norway, so I’d thought I’d share some of the findings so far. It throws up some interesting questions.

The conference is hosted by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and is called Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts. There are more than 300 delegates from 30 countries, mostly European but also some from US, Japan, Iran, South Africa and Japan.  It seems we share many similarities in the challenges of gathering data (both pre and post-construction) and assessing impacts.

Today’s presentations were on three themes: EIAs and site selection, pre and post construction monitoring and fatality studies.

In the first instance the importance of involving ecological considerations in the site selection process is crucial, most of our clients don’t bring us in until this has been done and it was agreed that delays and last minute surprises would in most cases be avoided (and a great deal of money saved) if some obvious issues were dealt with sooner.

There are a great many gaps in our knowledge about the impact of wind farms on wildlife, we are having to make impact assessments without adequate data and this is problematic.

It has been reassuring to see how much research is underway but it will be a long time before it is published. Also, not much of this research is happening in the UK which means that we will have to continue to extrapolate data from unfamiliar landscapes and from species that don’t occur here.

A notable exception is Simon Pickering’s work at Avonmouth – hugely impressed that not only is he conducting post development monitoring but that he also has the support of a cross-agency committee for the project. A double whammy!

Finally, a hugely successful project to reduce bird mortality at a large Spanish wind farm – vulture restaurants. I have the address and am making a reservation!

I have attached a picture of a nice street in Trondheim, Nedre Bakklandet, is down at fjord level but most of the city is piled up on the hills which is why you need – the bicycle lift!

I will try and do another tomorrow night but I have a late finish as will be on a beaver safari!”