New offshore wind farms could have ‘catastrophic impact’ on sea birds

Government figures show that more than 4,000 kittiwakes could be killed every year

Big Zero Report 2022

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has warned that thousands of sea birds could die as a result of poorly planned offshore wind developments.

It said: “The UK is home to globally important seabird colonies, but of the 25 seabird species that raise their young here 24 are Red or Amber listed in the latest Birds of Conservation Concern report.

“Around the UK we have lost over two million seabirds in just three decades. These declines are continuing, the government’s own figures show over 4,000 kittiwakes are predicted to be killed or displaced every year due to poorly planned offshore wind developments.

“This is not sustainable for a Red List species already pushed to the brink of extinction. The precarious state of our seabirds means that we do not have the luxury of making mistakes today that will have a catastrophic impact for years and decades to come.”

In its recently announced Energy Security Strategy, the government set an ambition for 50GW of offshore wind by 2030.

The nature conservation charity continued: “There is the potential to tackle climate change and deliver the UK Energy Security Strategy targets for renewable energy without damaging the government’s ambition for restoring nature and wildlife, but only with the right tools.

“This means changing our planning system so that we are not locking energy companies into problematic sites that rely on untried and untested schemes to try and compensate for seabird losses.”

The Crown Estate, which owns all the seabed around the UK and is responsible for the leasing rounds for new offshore wind farms, has said proposed developments need to be “rigorously assessed” to understand their impacts on the environment.

Olivia Thomas, Head of Marine Planning at The Crown Estate said: “As pressures on our marine environment increase, it’s imperative that we can find ways to deliver the clean power that is urgently needed to help combat the energy crisis and deliver greater energy security while recognising the importance of protecting habitats and biodiversity offshore.”

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