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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 July 2006, 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK
Bird survey aids windfarm choice
Migrating birds
The government wants to protect wildlife and use greener energy
A major survey of UK seabirds is being used to help the government decide where to locate future wind farms.

Research by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) shows the distribution of birds in areas picked for further offshore wind farm development.

These include the Thames Estuary, the Greater Wash and areas off north Wales and north-west England.

Fears have been expressed of birds being killed by flying into the farms' wind turbines.

Minimising impact

The WWT's survey shows there are greater numbers of seabirds and a wider diversity of species in those areas than previously believed.

Its results will assist the Government in minimising the impact on wildlife and the environment when planning future wind farms.

It is hoped that the second major development of wind farms will deliver between five and seven gigawatts of carbon free energy to the UK.

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks said that offshore wind farms could make up a significant proportion of the Government's renewable energy targets, but it was also vital to protect local wildlife species.

He added: "It is estimated that 12% of all birds, 23% of mammals and a third of amphibians are threatened with imminent extinction.

"So in giving the green light to new wind energy projects we have to consider the global picture, while also taking every step possible to minimise the direct impact on species living or migrating locally."

Peter Cranswick, threatened waterbirds programme manager at WWT, said the aerial survey had significantly increased understanding of waterbirds living around the UK's shores.

He said: "The data will be crucial in identifying the importance of UK waters for waterbirds...to identifying and protecting important sites, and to ensure that these developments in near shore waters are planned and implemented in an appropriate and sensitive manner."

Wind farms are given green light
26 Jul 06 |  Somerset
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18 Jul 06 |  South of Scotland
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18 Jul 06 |  In Pictures

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