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Urgent calls for action in the face of expanding wind farms  

With the recent announcement of a huge increase in marine wind farms in UK waters, WDCS has renewed its call to better protect the UK’s whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife from this unprecedented industrial development.

It is reported that up to 7,000 new wind turbines are planned for the marine environment (estimated to represent two per mile of coast) and it is clear that this will fundamentally change Britain’s coastline.

The potential threats from wind farms in the marine environment include the loud noise associated with their construction (especially pile driving); the noise and disturbance associated with their operation (including boat trips for maintenance) and the ways in which their presence may change marine habitats. The full impacts of these combined intrusions on UK coastal ecology are yet to be investigated, and there is still have much to learn about the ways in which whales, dolphins and porpoises are using the waters around Britain.

WDCS’s Director of Science, Mark Simmonds, comments: “Our concerns about marine wind farms should not be dismissed as nimbyist. We have been promised a Marine Bill to address marine conservation issues from this Government for many years now. The very latest development, last month, was merely a commitment to a draft Bill in the last Queen’s speech and now, instead, we now have an announcement of unparalleled industrial development in the marine environment and so this comes without adequate protection in place. This is clearly putting the coach before the horses!

WDCS highlighted these and other concerns earlier this year in a report that was circulated to all UK and Scottish Members of Parliament. The report, The Conservation of British Cetaceans highlighted the existing lack of protection for the two dozen or so whales, dolphins and porpoises found in the seas around Britain. Many supportive messages have been received from MPs and from the public via a linked petition calling for more help for these animals. Click here for the report and petition.

WDCS along with the other leading marine conservation organisations in the UK has also been calling for a new Marine Act to better protect marine wildlife but, despite promises from Government, this is still not forthcoming.

WDCS believes that all developments in the marine environment, including wind farms, should be subject to rigorous environmental assessment before development is permitted and that there is appropriate monitoring to determine the effects of any approved developments before and after construction.

Mark continues, “Whilst we are highly concerned about climate change and supportive of the development of renewable energy sources, we are also aware that wind farms may impact dolphins, porpoises and whales and that this needs to be very urgently addressed. The existing system of protection is poor and failing and to speed ahead with marine wind farms in this way shows a lack of appreciation for marine nature conservation and marine wildlife.”

The WDCS report, The Conservation of British Cetaceans: A Review of the Threats and Protection afforded to Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises in UK Waters (2007) by E.C.M. Parsons, J. Clark, A Ross & M.P. Simmonds brings together for the first time all current threats facing UK cetaceans, and calls on the UK government to commit to improving the protection of whales and dolphins and highlights threats and possible remedies. The report can be downloaded here.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)

10 December 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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