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Guidelines ‘will protect birds from wind turbines’

Scottish scientists are calling for national guidelines to help protect bats and birds from mini wind turbines on homes.

Researchers at the University of Stirling Research found widespread variation in how councils handle planning applications, with some routinely asking for ecological surveys, while others rarely did so.

Dr Kirsty Park, lead author of the study which was published yesterday in the Journal of 
Applied Ecology, said: “We found major variations in the planning process between different local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

“Micro-turbines are fast becoming a common sight within the UK. However, in spite of the rapid growth in numbers, there has been little study of their possible impact on wildlife, which could include collisions of birds and bats with the turbines, or disturbance effects.”

The Scottish Wildlife Trust supported the scientists’ calls for greater guidance and more research to ensure that developments do not harm wildlife.

However, it added that planning decisions should remain local “wherever possible”.

The Scottish Government said both it and Scottish Natural Heritage had published guidance, and responsibility for determining whether bats could be affected lay with homeowners.

The study coincided with the latest approval of a major new wind farm which the Scottish Government said would generate £30 million for the Highlands. Beinneun wind farm, near Invergarry, will have 25 turbines producing enough power for 40,000 homes.

Meanwhile, a new study yesterday found that tourism businesses at the “gateway to Scotland” think wind turbines are bad for business.

The survey of hoteliers, B&B owners and caravan and camping site operators in the Scottish Borders around Carter Bar revealed that about two thirds (69 per cent) believed wind farms put tourists off.