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United States

Committee advises US government to create ecological database

US: The US government should maintain a national landscape database to help assess the ecological risks posed by wind farms, according to a long-awaited report by a federal advisory committee.

The Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee report, sent to US interior secretary Ken Salazar, outlines proposed policies and developer guidelines aimed at minimising wind turbines' effects on wildlife.

The report recommends that developers take a five-stage approach to evaluating their wind projects' potential effects on birds, bats and other wildlife.

If the advisability of a project is not clear from the information a developer gathers in stage one, the developer should move onto stage two, and so on.

For each stage, the guidelines present a series of questions that developers should answer, using described methods and metrics.

The guidelines are voluntary, but experts believe the measures will carry weight as a model for states and local jurisdictions.

The committee also recommended that the Department of the Interior use incentives to encourage developers to adopt the guidelines.

The committee was appointed two years ago, after congressman Nick Rahall withdrew legislation meant to protect wildlife from wind turbines.

The American Wind Energy Association had warned that the siting restrictions in the bill would have brought US wind development to a "grinding halt".

 

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