An educational conservation charity is calling for further research to be undertaken to ensure that the risks to puffins and other seabirds from offshore wind farms are minimised.
It comes as a judicial review lodged by RSPB Scotland into the Scottish Ministers’ decision to give the go ahead to four offshore windfarms off the Firths of Forth and Tay begins tomorrow.
The legal challenge to the the Seagreen Alpha, Seagreen Bravo, Neart na Gaoithe and Inch Cape developments is expected to last up to eight days.
But the Scottish Seabird Centre is concerned that insufficient research has been undertaken into the estimated annual mortality of seabirds as a result of the operation of the proposed wind farms.
It argues that the Firth of Forth is of international importance for seabirds. The Bass Rock is the world’s largest colony of northern gannets with over 75,000 occupied sites, and the Isle of May National Nature Reserve is the largest puffin colony on the east coast with around 46,000 occupied burrows.
Some estimates suggest that over 2,500 seabirds, including puffins and gannets, will be killed annually from being hit by the blades of the turbines. Others estimates that seabird mortality will be much higher.
Tom Brock, Chief Executive of the centre, said there was a need for renewable energy developments at appropriate locations. “However, we are extremely concerned about the potential impacts that a development of this scale, 335 large wind turbines, will have on the large number of internationally important seabird colonies in the vicinity.”
He said key decisions were being made when there were significant knowledge gaps.
“It is essential that relevant research is undertaken as a priority to ensure that these important decisions are evidence-based and risks to Scotland’s seabirds are minimised.”
Multi-award winning environmentalist, Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, agrees.
He said: “For many of us who have dedicated our whole lives to protecting our planet and seek solutions to deal with climate change and renewable energy, we look for progress to make a difference for humans and all species. But not all efforts are equally progressive.”
He said the wind farms off the Tay and Forth would come at the potential expense of critical seabird populations. “This is not progress. It is not a solution. It trades off one problem for another that is unacceptable.”
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