Wind farm danger to wildlife in focus
Scientists in Belfast say new rules are needed requiring wind farm operators to monitor mortality of birds and bats once the turbines are in place.
The Queen's University Belfast team, who carried out a review of the impacts of onshore wind energy development on wildlife, warned that mortality from wind farm collisions could put scarce species at even greater risk.
Bird and bats are particularly vulnerable to wind farm mortality and have been the focus of much of the research to date on wind farms and biodiversity, the Quercus team said.
The report, A Review Of The Impacts Of Onshore Wind Energy Development On Biodiversity, was commissioned by Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
It said onshore wind energy construction and operation can have significant negative impacts on biodiversity, but there has been limited research on the impact of single wind turbines.
"Additional mortality poses the greatest risk to species of conservation concern that have low rates of productivity and slow maturation rates - such as all bat species in Northern Ireland and birds of prey," the report said.
"Therefore, additional mortality arising from wind farm collisions may put species already at risk at a greater risk. It is imperative that the level of mortality at wind energy facilities for birds and bats be determined as a priority to establish what effects current development has on their populations."