The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says Britain can greatly increase its number of onshore wind farms without threatening wildlife. The society, which has over one million members, calls on the government to step in to ensure quicker decisions on wind farm applications while protecting wildlife. The RSPB report, by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), recognises that a big increase in turbines is needed if the UK is to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets. It finds the country lagging behind much of Europe at 13th in a European league table of wind power per head of population, trailing behind Estonia. Permitting decisions for wind farms are slow and the planning system does not do enough to steer developers to suitable sites, the report finds. It makes a series of recommendations based on the experiences of Germany, Spain and Denmark of successful and rapid wind deployment. The planning system should take a strategic approach in identifying areas where new turbines would be given priority and those where they would conflict with wildlife, it says. Government should provide leadership in setting local targets for turbines and make sure planning decisions recognise that wind is a national priority. And there should be more ways for communities to benefit from wind farms on their doorstep. Some view the report as a u-turn by the RSPB, which vehemently opposed a 630 MW wind farm proposed for the Scottish island of Lewis, which was rejected by the Scottish government in 2008. The organisation, however, maintains it has never opposed well-located wind projects.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol