Wind farm toll of sea birds is 12 times as bad as feared


Offshore wind turbines could be killing 12 times more gannets than previously thought, experts have warned.

A study found the birds are most at risk of being hit when hunting for food. 

Turbine blades must be a minimum of 22 metres (72ft) above sea level, and it was previously thought gannets flew well below this.
But using GPS trackers, researchers at the universities of Leeds, Exeter and Glasgow found that while hunting the birds flew at an average height of 27 metres – putting them within the blades' reach.

Writing in the Journal of Applied Ecology they estimated up to 12 times more gannets could be killed by turbines than current figures suggest, and called for the minimum height to be raised to 30 metres.

They also warned that plans for two wind farms near the Bass Rock breeding colony in the Firth of Forth in Scotland could see 1,500 birds killed a year.

Dr Ian Cleasby, of the University of Exeter, said: 'Our predictions – if realised in the field – are high enough to cause concern over the potential long-term effects on population size.'

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