The Northern Ireland Environment Agency Natural Environment Division (NED) has published new Guidance on Bat Surveys, Assessment and Mitigation for Onshore Wind Turbine Developments in Northern Ireland.
There is extensive evidence from the UK and around the world of significant bat casualties from operational wind turbines in the following ways:
- Direct mortality through collisions with turbine blades, barotrauma and other injuries;
- Loss of, damage to, or fragmentation of commuting and foraging habitat through installation of wind turbines and associated infrastructure, such as access roads;
- Loss of, damage or disturbance to roosts;
- Displacement from foraging and commuting habitats.
In order to comply with legislation and planning policy and properly assess the risk to bats from wind turbine developments, appropriate surveys, including specialist bat activity surveys and, where appropriate, carcass searches, are required to be carried out at a proposed wind turbine site and submitted with any planning application for assessment. NED publishes survey guidelines to help standardise ecological surveys submitted alongside planning applications and to set minimum acceptable standards.
The guidance published today applies to both proposed single wind turbine developments and wind farms. All bat surveys for wind turbine developments in Northern Ireland should follow this guidance and all existing relevant guidance.