The results of one of the most comprehensive, independent studies of the effects of wind farms on birds has been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

The study, carried out by naturalists and ornithologists from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Scottish Natural Heritage and the British Trust for Ornithology, is one of very few to cover multiple species and multiple sites over an extended period.

The study found no evidence of harm to bird species from revolving blades, noise or visual disturbance from operating wind farms.

However, many birds in species which were foraging or nesting within about 800 metres of a wind farm site during its construction, left the area and numbers failed to recover. For example, curlew numbers fell by 40% within 800 metres of a construction site and snipe numbers fell by 53% within 400 metres of construction.

Martin Harper, the RSPB conservation director said that “It shows that there can be serious species-level impacts in the construction phase, so construction in the right place is absolutely key. But what it hasn’t shown is that windfarms are ‘bird blenders’. There is no impact from the turning of the blades.”

Image by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Image by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds