ecology habitats marine

Onshore Wind Farm Survey Guidelines Released

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) have recently released final copy of their Onshore Wind Farm Survey Guidelines*, these guidelines will also form a chapter of the updated BCT Bat Survey Guidelines, to be released in late 2011.

Purpose of the Guidance

The guidance has been produced following the recent circulation of draft copy to various consultees, by an editorial board with representatives from consultancy and statutory sectors.  It is hoped that the guidance will allow for consistent levels of survey effort and assessment approach for all larger wind farm schemes.  The guidance however will not form statutory guidance, although they may be endorsed by conservation bodies, and may become the standard benchmark for all schemes.  Deviation from the standard approaches recommended in the document will certainly require justification in any associated EcIA chapters.

The guidance is designed to be relevant to single and multi-turbine on shore schemes of more than 250kw, and does not cover off shore proposals.  Micro turbine schemes are also excluded from the guidance as it is generally acknowledged that the potential effects from such developments are commensurately small, however each application should be judged on a case by case basis – the guidance acknowledges the possibility of potential negative effects, especially where micro turbines are inappropriately located, for example, close to known roost access points.

Survey Effort and Timing

– Important Surveys needed for application consent
Box 2 of the guidelines (page 11)* describes the main proposed survey techniques.  Appropriate survey effort for manual surveys (walked transects), automated detector surveys (at ground level) and ‘at height’ automated surveys.  In addition to this, roost surveys are recommended to establish the status, seasonality and species assemblages of potential roosts.

As far as ‘at height’ data is concerned, the guidelines accept that for all sites, any requirement for such surveys should be considered on a case by case basis, according to the perceived risk of harm to aerial hawking species.  One exception to this is where turbines are to be ‘key holed’ into existing woodland – in which case the guidelines suggest that at canopy height monitoring is essential.

– Key timings to help you avoid delays to your development programme
The guidelines propose that survey effort is proportionate to the risk of harm, and thereby categorises applications into High, Medium and Low risk, according to geographical location, number of turbines and habitat quality.  For High risk schemes, two transect visits per month combined with a percentage of the turbine locations/or a grid sampling method should be employed, whereas for Low risk sites, a single transect survey should be undertaken per season (spring, summer and autumn).

For more detail or further information please contact us.

*You can download a copy of the Onshore Wind Farm Survey Guidelines on the BCT website

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