A battle of the bats has broken out over the effect wind turbines in Parkhurst may have on rare species.
With just days to go before the closing date for representations on the plan for two turbines, an expert consultant employed by the applicant, Partnerships for Renewables (PfR), has disputed findings supported by the Isle of Wight Council senior ecology officer, Dr Colin Pope.
Opponents claim bird and bat populations could be badly affected by turbine blades and Dr Pope contended that, based on current understanding, barbastelle, noctule and leisler’s bat populations could be harmed.
Dr Jon Whitehurst, a member of the Bat Conservation Trust, produced the study leading to Dr Pope’s conclusion.
Dr Whitehurst, who lives at Noke Common, is one of the many objectors to the pair of 125- metre tall turbines on prison land near the closed Camp Hill Prison, on the fringe of Parkhurst Forest.
He concluded the effect on 14 different species – including an internationally significant, and thriving, barbstelle bat population – needed much more research.
But consultant for PfR, Dr Lynn Whitfield, challenged the methodology and said her survey, conducted over three years, showed bats rarely used the open-field habitat, where the turbines would be sited.
She understood Natural England had accepted monitoring the effects of measures to protect bats when the turbines were built was a reasonable approach.
A major study would be published next year on the effects of wind turbines on UK bats.
A PfR spokesman said: “With the proposed mitigation such as “stand-off” from Parkhurst Forest, scrub clearance and post-construction monitoring, the predicted effect of the turbines on local bat populations is still considered not to be significant in environmental impact assessment terms.”
The closing date for representations is today (Friday).
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