The potential effects of wind farms on birds have been an issue with many recent proposals in Ireland and indeed across Europe and other parts of the world. In some cases they have even been the primary reason for a site being rejected during the planning process. It is therefore important that developers are aware of the potential impacts that may occur, and that new sites are located to avoid such problems as much as possible. With wind farm applications in Ireland set to rise considerably (Sustainable Energy Ireland 2003), this issue is likely to become more frequently encountered in the coming years.
It is in the interests of both wind farm developers and those seeking to protect bird populations that wind farms should be located away from areas in which such developments may have significant impacts. In achieving this objective it is important to make the best use of the available information on the effects of existing wind farms on birds. Hence the first part of this document aims to provide a review of the current knowledge on the effects of wind farms on birds, particularly in relation to potential issues in Ireland.
Another key component to successfully managing bird issues with wind farm developments is to have an agreed way in which the potential effects should be assessed. This should be as transparent and objective a process as possible, so that it can be clearly ascertained whether a proposal would be acceptable or not in terms of its potential ornithological impact. Therefore the second part of this document aims to provide a methodology for assessing the effects of wind farm on ornithological interests. This is based closely on the methodology developed jointly between Scottish Natural Heritage and the British Wind Energy Association, which is used widely for ornithological impact assessment in Scotland and other parts of Britain, but modified slightly to fit the Irish context.