Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has published new guidelines for surveying, assessment and mitigation in relation to bats at onshore wind turbines. The guidance is provided for planners, developers and ecological consultants when considering the potential effects of proposed wind energy developments.
The document incorporates findings from the latest UK and European research and was prepared jointly by multiple conservation and renewables stakeholders. It replaces all previous UK guidance on the subject, including the widely implemented guidelines from Bat Conservation Trust (Hundt, 2012) and from Natural England (Mitchell-Jones & Carlin, 2014).
Compared to previous guidance documents, substantial changes in survey design are proposed. Greater importance is placed on the use of static detectors while survey effort in relation to manual transects is less stringent. As a result, equipment requirements and associated data analyses will increase significantly under the new guidelines.
Detailed advice on the assessment of bat activity levels and the objective interpretation of potential risk are provided. Options for mitigation are also provided and post-construction monitoring methods are prescribed.
The new guidelines represent a substantial change in the approach to bat survey and assessment at potential wind energy sites. Surveys must provide a comprehensive overview of all proposed turbine locations across the bat activity season. Risk assessment and mitigation strategies must be data-led and subject to ongoing assessment through post-construction monitoring.
Prior to the release of the guidelines, MKO ecologists made predictions in light of recent research findings and have been incorporating these into our ongoing bat work. In addition, we have invested in a suite of the latest bat detection technologies. As such, we have the experience, equipment and expertise to readily adopt the new guidelines.
Please contact the MKO ecology team for a detailed review of the guidelines or to discuss possible implications.
The full guidelines can be viewed here