Thousands of birds and bats could be killed by the development of small domestic wind turbines, researchers in Stirling have warned.
Domestic “microturbines” are growing in popularity among homeowners.
However, researchers at the University of Stirling say planning measures must be introduced to keep them away from bird and bat habitats.
The study is the first to address small turbines rather than large wind farms.
Previous research has suggested that birds and bats may be killed in “significant” numbers by colliding with turbines at large wind farms.
The Stirling research, carried out in collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithology, claims small turbines could have a similar impact.
More than 19,000 microturbines are already in place in the UK, mainly in domestic and farmland settings, and their use has increased due to technological advances and financial incentives.
The study used data, questionnaires from turbine owners and computer modelling to calculate that up to 5,510 birds and 3,363 bats could be killed every year by these turbines.
The research team also found that bats have started avoiding microturbine development sites, abandoning potentially suitable feeding areas.
The research, which has been published in the Biodiversity and Conservation journal, concluded that turbines must be carefully positioned to avoid installing them in areas where bird and bat activity is likely to be high.
Dr Jeroen Minderman from the university’s school of natural sciences said: “Bird and bat deaths are a reality at small wind turbine sites.”
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