Wind farms built to tackle climate change could lead to the “irreversible” decline towards extinction for seabirds including puffins, the RSPB has warned.
Last week Boris Johnson announced plans to power every home in Britain by wind by 2030.
He said the UK has “limitless” offshore wind capacity which would be at the heart of a green industrial revolution – creating millions of jobs.
But conservationists say the expansion of offshore farms could be the final nail in the coffin for our globally important seabird populations, the Daily Mirror reports.
The turbines are usually constructed in shallow sandbanks where birds such as puffins, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and shags, now on a red list of threatened species, seek out small fish.
But birds can collide with the blades while flying to these feeding spots.
Others are forced to use up more energy trying to navigate around them or find new foraging areas, spending longer away from nests during the breeding season, increasing the chances of chicks starving to death.
A spokesperson for the RSPB said the Government should focus on building onshore wind and solar panels in areas less important for biodiversity.
“Our seabirds and marine environment are in trouble, facing a cocktail of threats from human pressures and climate change.
“Without transforming how we plan development in our seas alongside the delivery of meaningful conservation measures, these combined threats risk irreversible seabird losses.
“We risk losing our globally significant breeding colonies to ‘a thousand cuts’ where no individual scheme is responsible but collectively the impact is devastating.” One option that the RSPB has presented is floating wind, where turbines can be constructed in deeper waters, away from feeding areas.”
Britain’s 450,000 puffins are at an unprecedented, catastrophic low and now threatened with extinction driven by climate change affecting food supplies and the scourge of plastic pollutants.
Recent surveys of the Farne Islands in Northumberland also revealed that despite a steady increase over the previous 70 years, numbers have declined by as much as 42% over the past five years.
Since 1986, the UK Kittiwake population has fallen by 70% due to declines in breeding success and survival.
A UK Government spokesperson said it is working to “identify ways to manage and mitigate the potential impacts of renewable energy sources.
“We are proud of the protection our iconic seabird populations enjoy through our extensive network of Special Protection Areas and we are going further by developing a Seabird Conservation Strategy to mitigate the range of other pressures our seabirds are facing.”
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