Study: Wind turbines low risk to birds

April 13, 2012 at 7:05 AM

LONDON, April 13 (UPI) -- A majority of the bird population in Great Britain can thrive near major wind energy projects though risks remain during project development, a study finds.

A study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, stated several major bird species could thrive alongside wind farms but other species were threatened during the construction phase.

"It was a bit of a surprise that the impact on wind farms seemed to be happening during construction rather than operation," James Pearce-Higgins, an ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology and study co-author, was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying.

The study found populations of some bird species declined more than 50 percent during the construction phase but eventually recovered.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was critical of the consent given by the Scottish government last week for the 370-megawatt Viking wind farm on the Shetland Islands.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the project would help move Scotland closer to its 2020 goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources.

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