Wind energy has significant environmental benefits and recent government targets are driving forward the development of additional sites.
However, it is becoming clear that there are potential ecological impacts as a result of such schemes, and assessments to identify, avoid and mitigate these effects are increasingly required throughout the planning process.
Larger developments require comprehensive ecological surveys to inform an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and our company is well placed to carry out these surveys for you. The first stage is normally to carry out scoping surveys to assess a range of potential sites and identify which are most suitable.
Most proposed wind farms will then require detailed botanical surveys to be undertaken, using the methods developed for the National Vegetation Classification (NVC). Such surveys can only be carried out by highly experienced botanists who are capable of identifying the mosses, grasses and sedges that typify the upland plant communities which often occur on suitable windfarm sites.
Windfarms can also have a severe impact on bat and bird populations. Targeted bat and bird surveys will be needed to consider the pattern of activity across and within a site, and to locate important roosts, flight-paths, migration routes and sheltering areas etc. Seasonal variation may also need to be taken into account.
Specialist ornithological surveys are also often required to evaluate whether breeding, migrating or wintering bird species might be affected. Specialised and standardised methods, such as those developed by Scottish Natural Heritage, will often need to be employed.
Smaller applications for single turbines (microgeneration) will often also require survey work – frequently focusing on bat flight-paths and roosts. We can carry out a full range of surveys at varying scales, depending on the needs and scope of the project.