Ireland - Services

Services

Ornithology

RPS provides the full range of ornithology services for Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment purposes for a wide spectrum of clients, notably within the renewables industry.

Good bird survey design and expert data collection, analysis and modelling coupled with clear and robust reporting is essential for any successful planning application where potential impacts on bird populations are identified. This is especially the case for onshore and offshore wind farm proposals where such potential impacts such as collision risk, displacement and barrier effects are well documented. Our team of bird experts, many of whom have previously worked for key statutory and non-statutory conservation agencies carefully manage the ornithological elements of an EIA or HRA from start to finish using their combined range of skills to ensure that every part of the process is fit for purpose. We ensure the highest quality of service is delivered through close liaison with both our clients and all stakeholder consultees and aim to deliver the best outputs based on the all the available evidence.

The remit of our bird team covers the impact assessment of many different types of project such as very large offshore wind farms, onshore wind farms, wave and tidal energy projects, pipelines, transmission line routes and building developments. We also provide ornithological expert witness’s for public inquires and hearings.

Case Studies

Argyll Array Offshore Wind Farm

Argyll Array Offshore Wind Farm

Scottish Power Renewables

RPS was commissioned by Scottish Power Renewables to act as lead ornithological advisor for the Argyll Array offshore wind farm.

The main objective of this project was to robustly characterise the bird assemblage using the survey area and predict the likely impacts of the proposed turbine array. Birds considered included breeding, wintering and migratory populations of seabird species and important terrestrial birds such as Greenland white fronted geese, whooper swan and corncrake.

Observations of birds and marine mammals were conducted over 2 years using:

Monthly boat-based surveys

Land based radar tracking during spring and autumn migration

Land based surveys


The information gathered served as a baseline of normal ecological function for the site and allowed the development of predictions for potential impacts of turbines on the bird population from barrier effects, displacement and collision risk.

This project is currently ongoing and RPS has produced a draft Technical Report and Habitats Regulations Assessment for the project.

Clyde Extension Wind Farm

Clyde Extension Wind Farm

SSE Renewables

RPS has provided the ornithological input into the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for the proposed extension to the Clyde Wind Farm

The Clyde Wind Farm in South Lanarkshire is one of Europe’s largest consented wind farms, and a 54-turbine extension is planned to infill the area between the north and south sections.

RPS conducted a comprehensive series of baseline ornithological surveys agreed through consultation with stakeholders in order to be able to accurately determine any potential effects. A subsequent EIA was produced using the 3 years of baseline ornithological studies which Scottish Natural Heritage concluded was fit for purpose and under-pinned by robust data collection.

RPS identified that specific mitigation measures would be required to avoid significant adverse effects on breeding raptors, and have helped produce a Habitat Management Plan which aims to provide improved breeding conditions for a variety of species, including hen harrier, merlin, osprey, black grouse and ring ouzel.

RPS has continued to provide post-submission support via consultation with stakeholders and presentation of further information on evidence of effects on particular species at operational wind farms, plus 3D graphic representations of the location of nest sites in relation to wind farm infrastructure.

Hornsea Offshore Wind Farm

Hornsea Offshore Wind Farm: Onshore Cable Route Ornithology Assessment

SMartWind

RPS was commissioned by SMartWind to provide an ornithological assessment (for HRA and EIA) of potential impacts from the installation of an onshore cable route in Lincolnshire.

This site presented several ecological challenges as the cable route is planned to cross a European protected intertidal area as well as ~35km of inshore agricultural land. Furthermore, a number of bird species of conservation concern use the intertidal area in large numbers.

Assessment was divided between terrestrial birds which were predominantly active on the site as summer breeders, and the wader species which were primarily winter visitors foraging or roosting on the shoreline

Breeding bird surveys were conducted using standard methods recommended by the BTO. The initial survey was used to identify areas of high activity and conduct more detailed work at these locations. Waders and wildfowl were assessed by fortnightly surveys which recorded bird numbers and behaviour over a series of tidal states

Using this data to pinpoint critical times and locations of bird activity, RPS conducted EIA and HRA assessments and made recommendations for spatial and temporal mitigation measures to avoid disturbing highly sensitive species

Meygen Tidal Stream Project

Meygen Tidal Stream Project

Meygen

RPS was commissioned by Meygen to provide the full range of services required to establish the effects of the Pentland Firth tidal stream project on ornithological interests.

RPS designed and co-ordinated baseline surveys to establish the range of bird species present on site throughout the year, which involved a combination of boat and land-based surveys over a 2 year period.

The resultant Environmental Impact Assessment produced by RPS contained detailed analyses, including the formulation of a model to determine risks of collisions to diving birds, as well as the modelling of displacement rates and effects on populations.

RPS also produced a Habitat Regulations Assessment which assessed the potential for adverse effects on Natura 2000 sites due to individuals from Special Protection Areas utilising the site at various times throughout the year.

Wether Hill Post Consent Monitoring

Wether Hill Post Consent Monitoring

Scottish Power Renewables

RPS was commissioned to implement a programme of post-consent monitoring at the ScottishPower Renewables Wether Hill Wind Farm in Dumfries and Galloway.

Due to the presence of black grouse and peregrine falcon (both species of high conservation concern) during baseline surveys in 2001, the conditions of the planning permission for the wind farm required the development of a Bird Monitoring Programme (BMP) under a Section 75 Agreement. The BMP aims to monitor the ongoing status of these species at the operational wind farm site.

Black grouse surveys monitor the species in the context of the local population in co-operation with RSPB Scotland. Although this population is in decline, this is not thought to be due to the construction or operation of the wind farm.

Peregrine surveys monitor the breeding success at the site on an annual basis, and attempts are made to assess the turnover of breeding adults. Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags have been placed on adult and young peregrines. So far, the operation of the wind farm does not appear to have had a measurable effect on the breeding behaviour or nesting success of peregrines. These surveys were undertaken in conjunction with the local raptor study group.

Whitelee Ornithological Surveys

Whitelee Ornithological Surveys

Scottish Power Renewables

ScottishPower Renewables commissioned RPS to carry out bird surveys at Whitelee wind farm.

Whitelee was the largest wind farm in Europe when it was completed in 2009. Following the Environmental Statement, a Habitat Management Plan (HMP) was implemented to co-ordinate the protection, enhancement and creation of habitats of conservation importance within the site, with a particular focus on the habitats and species that may potentially be adversely affected by the wind farm.

The purpose of the 2010-11 surveys was to:

Determine the number, location and outcome of breeding attempts by scarce raptors and owls

Assess the use of the HMA by black grouse and red grouse in spring

Determine the distribution and abundance of common breeding birds within the open ground habitats in the HMA, including the areas deforested to accommodate the wind farm and assess the abundance of the important raptor prey species – skylark, meadow pipit and field vole


Annual reports were produced which highlighted changes in the populations of key species since the construction of the wind farm.