A word of warning for those of you who are scrutinizing wind turbine/farm applications at the moment or in the future. Blades are getting longer in order to sweep a greater area and generate more profit. DO NOT just look at the tip height; work out the clearance between ground and blade tip. The lower the ground clearance the more species of bird are likely to be struck by the blades. It appears that statutory consultees themselves are not taking this into consideration. Authors of the Ornithology section of EIAs may well have considered it but don’t want to draw attention to it. Both Nature Scot and RSPB are looking at an application at the moment which is for a single turbine of 125m with a ground clearance of 9m. Unheard for an industrial turbine to date. Responses below.
RSPB “Like you, I have not seen a structure like this before and agree that it may lead to additional issues with bird collisions, as it would sweep a height where more birds fly.”
Nature Scot – “You would hope that the issue of lower ground clearance would be accounted for in the maths of the collision risk modelling. But there is always a possibility that these designs are so new that we genuinely don’t have the research to know how to factor that in yet – though if it’s been raised as a concern I am sure the ornithologists on the Policy & Advice team will be looking into it. But if there is an issue of potential concern where the full effects are not yet known, it would mean that there would be no way that such turbines could go up in SSSIs or Nature Reserves etc. due to the legal precautionary principles that have to be applied. However it’s more worrying in ‘wider countryside’ sites where there are fewer (if any) such restrictions in place.”
We don’t believe it has been raised as an issue because this turbine appears to be a first of its kind but you can bet it won’t be the last! We await further responses from RSPB and Nature Scot.
If you are scrutinizing an application that only gives a tip height, query the hub height and work out the ground clearance.