The wind power industry has grown rapidly in the UK to meet EU targets of sourcing 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. Although wind power is a renewable energy source, there are environmental concerns over increasing numbers of wind farm proposals and associated cumulative impacts. Individually, a wind farm, or indeed any action, may have minor effects on the environment, but collectively these may be significant, potentially greater than the sum of the individual parts acting alone. EU and UK legislation requires a cumulative impact assessment (CIA) as part of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). However, in the absence of detailed guidance and definitions, such assessments within EIA are rarely adequate, restricting the acquisition of basic knowledge about the cumulative impacts of wind farms on bird populations. Here we propose a conceptual framework to promote transparency in CIA through the explicit definition of impacts, actions and scales within an assessment. Our framework requires improved legislative guidance on the actions to include in assessments, and advice on the appropriate baselines against which to assess impacts. Cumulative impacts are currently considered on restricted scales (spatial and temporal) relating to individual development EIAs. We propose that benefits would be gained from elevating CIA to a strategic level, as a component of spatially explicit planning.