photo: Iberdrola Renewables
Wind power may be undeniably better in terms of carbon emissions than fossil fuel energy sources, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t genuine environmental concerns to take into consideration when building projects. And while bird deaths from wind turbines are much less with newer technology than they once were, there are still concerns about migratory bat deaths, and in general wildlife impacts should be addressed. Iberdrola Renewables is doing just that:Corporate Wildlife Protection Guidelines Created
In development in conjunction with the Migratory Bird Program of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for over a year, the Avian and Bat Protection Plan maps out a,
corporate policy about wildlife protection and establishes a process for contact with agencies and non-governmental organizations early in the site assessment stage of project evaluation. It also sets up internal policies for pre- and post-construction monitoring and proper site design, impact assessment, permit compliance, nest management, training, mortality reduction measures and mitigation. It supports Iberdrola Renewables' efforts on research and includes sections on quality control, public awareness, cost and implementation.
Risks of Bird Displacement, Raptor Nesting, Bats to be Studied
Obviously, how well this works is dependent on how diligently the guidelines are followed. Here are some of the pre-construction studies to which Iberdrola is committing:
Where data review and agency consultation identify substantial displacement of resident birds as a potential impact of the project, pre-construction surveys should include bird use surveys. Displacement studies may require more intense study (e.g., a denser network of survey points or use of transects). Where there is a concern about substantial impacts to breeding birds, surveys will be conducted during the appropriate breeding season.
Iberdrola will conduct raptor nest surveys near all project facilities where raptors are expected to nest, and will develop appropriate buffer distances between active nests and (1) construction during nesting/fledging season and (2) turbine locations. [...]
Pre-construction study methods to assess risk to bats are less well developed than for birds. Iberdrola is participating in research through the Bat Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC) at several Iberdrola project sites to develop better assessment methods. Iberdrola will install Anabat acoustic monitors on a sample of met towers at a range of prospective project locations across the country, reflecting a range of habitats and regions (Figure 2). Data will be collected at these sites using methodologies developed in consultation with the BWEC, and based on peer-reviewed protocols published in recent scientific journals. [...]
More on the Avian and Bat Protection Plan: Iberdrola Renewables and Cleantechnica
British Birds Love Wind Turbines, Except for the Pheasants
Migratory Bird Flyways and Off-Shore Wind Farms - A Co-Evolutionary Overlap
Bats More At Risk From Wind Turbines Than Birds, Study Claims