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United Kingdom


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Wind turbines at Blyth Harbour in the north east of England have had very little impact on the nearby bird population, concludes a three year study into the effects of the wind farm on birds. Avian casualties were few and were restricted to a relatively small number of species, says the report. Since the turbines came on stream in January 1993, only 31 collision victims have been found at the site. This translates into a yearly mortality rate of less than 1.34 birds for each turbine.

The nine turbines at Blyth are strung along the 1.2 kilometre harbour breakwater. The Blyth estuary is considered important for its wader populations and the breakwater is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its winter population of the rare purple sandpiper. The wind farm appears to have had no adverse effect whatsoever on this species. According to the report, the effect of the wind turbines on birds at Blyth appears similar to the findings of studies at other European coastal sites. These show that a kilometre length of wind turbines causes far fewer deaths than a kilometre of either power lines or roads.

The Blyth study was commissioned by Border Wind, developer of the wind farm, and funded by ETSU, the Department of Trade and Industry's research unit. It was undertaken by ornithologists Brian Little and Simon Lawrence.

David Still of Border Wind explains the company began its own study of birds in the area prior to construction of the wind farm. "We wanted to ensure there was a proper understanding of the area's birdlife in case there was a problem later when the wind farm was operational," he says. "Now we can say that the effects of the wind farm on the local bird population have been negligible." The study is to continue for another three years.

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