Adaptive or risk-based management of wind farm interactions with hen harriers
The RE-Harrier Project
The wind energy sector has grown globally as part of efforts to reduce human dependence on fossil fuels and curb climate change. In Ireland, wind farms have become a feature of the landscape in recent decades. Many Irish wind energy developments are mostly sited in upland areas, as these provide higher wind yields and fewer competing interests. However, many of the habitats and species found in these areas are of conservation interest, raising concerns about the environmental effects of wind energy developments.
Hen harrier: an Annex1 listed species, with documented population declines due to loss of suitable nesting and foraging habitat in upland areas and persecution. Wind energy development in upland areas therefore has the potential to become a further pressure on the species.
Hen Harrier’s were once widespread across the Irish landscape, their population numbers have declined, and their range has become increasingly restricted over the past two centuries, due to the loss and degradation of suitable habitats and to human persecution. The Irish hen harrier population is currently estimated at 108-157 breeding pairs, with marked declines recorded in some regions.
For wind energy to be truly sustainable, the potential ecological effects of these developments need to be fully understood and taken into consideration during the different phases of the planning process and of a wind farm’s lifetime. An accurate understanding of wind farm effects on biodiversity can inform best practice to allow for wind energy development in a manner compatible with environmental and conservation priorities and ensure that we simultaneously address the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis effectively.
June 2023 - June 2027
1. Compile existing project-level assessment and management data in a centralised accessible repository (WP2) and collate additional data needed to deliver subsequent work packages.
2. Improve understanding of hen harrier nest site fidelity (WP6), foraging range (WP7), flight height estimation (WP8), efficacy of compensatory habitat (WP10) and collision mortality detection (WP9) and avoidance (WP11) as a means of optimising conservation management of the species.
3. Creation of evidence-based guidance for wind energy industry to aid assessment of hen harrier interactions with wind energy developments and assist with engagement and efficacy of planning process (WP2-9)
4. Creation of a standardised data format to regulate the collection of data by the industry during impact assessments so that future data may be added to the repository.
1: Project management, reporting and completion
2: Database creation
3: Hen harrier breeding site suitability
4: Hen harrier roost site suitability
5: Hen harrier foraging site suitability
6: Hen harrier nest site fidelity
7: Hen harrier energetics and foraging
8: Assessment of surveyor flight height accuracy
9: Wind farm induced hen harrier mortality – carcass search protocol
10: Review of mitigation and management practices for hen harrier
11: Hen harrier avoidance in relation to different sized turbines
WP2: Model Review, Specification and Scenario Development
2.2: Methodology, assumptions and data
2.3: Technology Assessment
2.4: Future SOS, Resilience and Flexibility System Services Requirements
2.5: Infrastructure Scenarios
2.6: Scenario Specification
WP3: Open Model and Tool Development
3.1: Reliability Assessment Model Development
3.2: Flexibility Assessment Model Development
3.3: Network Model Development
3.4: Pathway Model Development
WP4: Modelling of Green Hydrogen in the Irish Energy Sector
4.1: Pathway Modelling
4.2: Flexibility and System Services Assessment
4.3: SOS and Reliability Assessment
4.4: Model Validation and Verification
5 Open Approach, Communication and Dissemination
5.1: Communication and Dissemination
5.2:Open Model and Data Deliverables
5.3: Synthesis, Report Writing and Policy Recommendations
Our Funding Body
This project has been supported with financial contribution from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland under the SEAI Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2022, Grant number 22/RDD/881
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