9th September 2016

The much anticipated report based on the University of Exeter research on bats and wind-turbines has been released Thursday 8th of September and can be downloaded HERE.

Onshore wind energy is an important part of the UK's low carbon energy mix, contributing towards meeting the UKs legally binding renewable and carbon reduction targets. UK Government policy seeks the right balance between protecting bats species and allowing activities to take place that are essential for the broader functioning of our society and the protection of our global environment. This research aims to help us better understand how to protect our bat population and inform guidance and advice for developers and local authorities, ensuring our thriving wildlife sits hand in hand with a productive economy. The research was funded by Defra, DECC (now Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RenewableUK.

The partnership of Defra, DECC (now Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), RenewableUK , Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, Ecotricity and the Bat Conservation Trust welcome the evidence provided by this research project and plan to amend the guidance to support the building and management of onshore wind turbines, which both supports bat species and progress in our renewable energy capabilities.

All bats are protected in the UK, and healthy bat populations indicate healthy ecosystems with abundant insect-prey and a diverse mix of foraging and roosting habitats. The report finds that mortality rates are similar to those found in Europe but vary significantly from site to site. Given the high degree of variability between sites, a case-by-case approach offers the best prospect of identifying risks at a site level, taking account of the abundance and diversity of species found in the area, and this research has provided improved protocols for case-by-case assessment. These findings will be used by Industry and statutory nature conservation agencies and other relevant stakeholders to revise and update existing advice and guidelines on site assessments.

The on-going work by the University of Exeter, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, has also developed an online tool, www.ecobat.org.uk to help stakeholders to interpret acoustic survey work conducted at wind farm sites. Detailed assessments of potential risk factors that can be used to predict collision rates at wind farms are also ongoing.