Demand for renewable energy is rising exponentially. While this has benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there may be costs to biodiversity. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are the main tool used across the world to predict the overall positive and negative effects of renewable energy developments before planning consent is given, and the Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIAs) within them assess their species-specific effects. Given that EIAs are undertaken globally, are extremely expensive, and are enshrined in legislation, their place in evidence-based decision making deserves evaluation. Here we assess how well EIAs of wind-farm developments protect bats. We found they do not predict the risks to bats accurately, and even in those cases where high risk was correctly identified, the mitigation deployed did not avert the risk. Given that the primary purpose of an EIA is to make planning decisions evidence-based, our results indicate that EIA mitigation strategies used to date have been ineffective in protecting bats. In the future, greater emphasis should be placed on assessing the actual impacts post-construction and on developing effective mitigation strategies.
Ecological Impact Assessments Fail to Reduce Risk of Bat Casualties at Wind Farms
Title: Ecological Impact Assessments Fail to Reduce Risk of Bat Casualties at Wind Farms
November 07, 2016
Magazine: Current Biology
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Cell Press
Lintott, P.; Richardson, S.; Hosken, D.; Fensome, S.; Mathews, F. (2016). Ecological Impact Assessments Fail to Reduce Risk of Bat Casualties at Wind Farms. Current Biology 26(1), R1135-R1136.