Wind Turbines have long been blamed for the death or injury of birds, bats and insects, but a recent study from Scotland may make us reexamine how we view these clean energy sources.
The study focused on a 65-turbine wind farm site, which is located close to a golden eagle nest in Argyll, Western Scotland.
The 20 year study has come to the conclusion that numbers or survival rates were not affected in any way by the presence of the nearby wind turbines. In fact, the golden eagle population near the Beinn an Tuirc wind farm is thriving.
When initial concern about the wind farm was raised, the developers relocated the turbines to a location which was a little further from the original nesting site. Additionally 1,800 hectares of land was cleared to create a suitable habitat for the birds, which are Scotland’s unofficial icon.
ScottishPower Renewables’ senior ecologist, Peter Robson, has said:
“We’ve been able to demonstrate how you can plan a wind farm in an area where there are sensitivities. In this case we were able to identify how the golden eagles used the territory and design the wind farm so it didn’t overlap with that range. The only way they can raise two chicks in a year is if they have an abundance of food, so our priority was to make sure they had that.
Our monitoring has confirmed our assumption that they wouldn’t go over the wind farm. That’s the main learning point from it.
In the 15 years since the turbines have been operating there have only been two observed flights of an eagle over the wind farm, and that’s out of thousands.”
The primary reactions to the report from conservationists have been strong, with many praising Beinn an Tuirc and ScottishPower Renewables for their efforts in helping to examine the relationship between eagles and nearby wind farms.
“They have really shown a lot of commitment to it from the outset,” said Aedan Smith, head of policy and development for RSPB Scotland, “(They) did a lot of work to try to create alternative habitat for the golden eagles, which is really useful, but also implemented this monitoring project. But this is also a good illustration of how important it is for companies to invest in nature conservation when there is likely to be an impact on the natural environment and ensure that any adverse effects are mitigated.”
Good news for wildlife and for clean energy.