On the eve of Halloween (Samhuinn in Scotland), our Director Paul Gill will be presenting the latest strong evidence for birds avoiding offshore wind farms, and one species, the declining kittiwake, being attracted into the rotor swept zone of offshore wind turbines. The occasion is the third select strategic ornithology workshop hosted by leading offshore wind developers Scottish Power Renewables, at their Glasgow HQ on 31st October. Paul will be presenting alongside other consultancy and research organisations, together with universities, developers and regulators to update our understanding of the effects of offshore wind on birds. He will describe the results of a pioneering bird monitoring programme that encompasses 3 years pre-construction, 3 years during construction, and the first 3 years of operation of 504MW Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm, owned by SSE plc and innogy SE and centred 36km off the East Anglian coast in the North Sea.
This research provides statistically robust comparisons of changes in densities of 13 seabird species within the wind farm sites, relative to 4 immediate buffer zones and 4 more distant reference areas. Strong evidence for avoidance of the wind farm was detected for 4 species (red-throated diver, gannet, fulmar and guillemot) and weaker evidence was found for razorbill and common gull, while strong evidence was detected for attraction of kittiwake. This presentation will for the first time quantify the magnitude of changes detected, together with confidence limits. Analyses of changes in flight densities at rotor height revealed strong evidence for kittiwakes flying at potential risk of collision within the turbine areas at greater densities during operation than before construction.