Seabird losses from turbine collisions found minimal

Evidence of a limited impact on seabirds has persuaded the government to grant consent for a 200-turbine wind farm off the Norfolk coast, against examiners’ advice.

The examination panel had recommended refusal of development consent for the 1,800MW Norfolk Vanguard scheme after finding insufficient information to rule out significant impacts on special protection areas through seabird deaths from collisions with this and other wind farm projects. This meant the development was not in conformity with national policy statements on energy, it advised. On other matters, however, it confirmed that the scheme’s renewable energy benefits outweighed its visual, traffic and other impacts.  

After requesting further information and taking into account additional mitigation proposed by the applicants, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy found that collisions with the wind farm would kill only a very small number of birds, making a de minimis contribution to total deaths cumulatively with other projects. On this basis, he concluded that development consent should not be refused on habitats regulations grounds. Given the strong endorsement of offshore wind electricity generation in national policy, he decided that the project’s benefits outweighed its adverse impacts.

Examiners: Karen Ridge, Caroline Jones, Gavin Jones and Grahame Kean; Hearing

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