Offshore UK Wind Farm Areas and Seabirds Focus of New Study

New information from an aerial study into waterbird populations in key offshore wind farm development sectors will serve to minimize the impact on the local environment from offshore wind farm site applications. The study both confirmed waterbirds’ large number and high diversity in areas that had previously been poorly understood and will help government in meeting its EU obligation to monitor and protect seabirds.

Managed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with joint funding by industry and government, the research carried out by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) has greatly increased understanding of waterbird populations in the three areas that have been designated for the second round of offshore wind farm development. Round two aims to deliver between five and seven gigawatts of carbon free energy to the UK and will take place in three strategic areas — The Thames Estuary, the Greater Wash and off the coast of north Wales / northwest England. “Only last week, distinguished scientists from 13 nations warned that climate change is contributing to a potentially catastrophic loss of species,” said Minister for Energy Malcolm Wicks. It is estimated that 12% of all birds, 23% of mammals and a third of amphibians are threatened with imminent extinction. “So in giving the green light to new wind energy projects we have to consider the global picture while also taking every step possible to minimize the direct impact on species living or migrating locally. This study is a major step forward in our understanding of waterbird and wildfowl numbers in the areas we expect to see new developments.” “Offshore wind farms have the potential to make up a significant proportion of the Government’s renewable energy targets, helping us in the race against climate change. Last year renewables broke through the four percent barrier for the first time, well on our way to our aim of 20% of electricity by 2020.”
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