New offshore wind farms are being rushed through with a ‘catastrophic impact’ on Britain’s sea birds, experts warned yesterday.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said Government figures showed that 4,000 kittiwakes, which are classed as a vulnerable species, are predicted to be killed or displaced each year by poorly planned wind turbine developments.
It comes after the Crown Estate, which owns the rights to develop the UK’s sea beds, announced it had sold concessions to build six vast offshore wind farms – enough to power seven million homes.
It conceded that a new one off Norfolk would have a damaging effect on sea birds. But it stressed that ‘environmental compensatory measures can be secured to fully offset the potential harm’.
The RSPB said black-legged kittiwakes, classed as vulnerable, will need to fly through the area, avoiding turbines, to reach feeding grounds. The area is already home to a giant wind project.
Hornsea Three is sited 75 miles from England’s biggest sea bird colony – Flamborough Head in Yorkshire. When complete, it will have up to 300 turbines, each up to 650ft high.
To compensate for birds killed by wind turbines, four kittiwake towers – artificial platforms – are planned inland for nesting. But the RSPB said more thought should be given to avoid big colonies of nesting birds rather than try to compensate for damage afterwards.
The charity’s Katie-Jo Luxton said: ‘Around the UK we have lost over two million sea birds in just three decades. The precarious state of our sea birds means we do not have the luxury of making mistakes today that will have a catastrophic impact for years and decades to come.’
The Crown Estate said it aimed to ‘deliver greater energy security while recognising the importance of protecting habitats and biodiversity offshore’.
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