On the basis of the ornithological information submitted to date, it is likely that the offshore elements of the Navitus Bay Wind Park will have no significant adverse impacts on bird populations.
However, the RSPB requires more work to be done on gannet populations and migrant bird species before it is completely satisfied with this development. We also have some concerns about the onshore works associated with cabling, and with other species. including Atlantic salmon and long-snouted sea-horse.
The RSPB has engaged with the Navitus Bay project since 2010. We have attended meetings, presentations and responded to public consultations.
In May 2014 Navitus Bay Development Limited (NBDL) submitted their project for consent, together with supporting information including an Environmental Statement (ES), which details the implications of building, operating, maintaining and ultimately decommissioning the wind farm on all important environmental features including wildlife.
It is highly unlikely that Navitus Bay if constructed would not harm some birds, much in the same way every year many birds die in collision with windows, pylons and many other man-made objects. However, birds dying in collision with objects, whilst regrettable, does not necessarily lead to negative effects on bird populations.
So, the key question for us is whether this development will cause such additional and regular mortality that it will lead to long-term declines.
We have now completed our analysis of the ES, and submitted a response to the Planning Inspectorate (a version of which you can download from this page).
On the basis of the ornithological information submitted to date, it is likely that the offshore elements of the wind park will have no significant adverse impacts on bird populations. However, the RSPB requires more work to be done on gannet populations and migrant species before it is completely satisfied with this development.
However, we do have concerns about the onshore effects of constructing the cable route. These include potential habitat loss, due to the cable being routed in part across Dorset's world-famous heathlands and potential recreational disturbance caused by people being displaced (as a result of cabling works) into other protected heathland areas. In both cases we will be seeking solutions with NBDL.
In terms of other wildlife, the RSPB does have some concerns over the effect of the development on Atlantic salmon, but we defer to the Environment Agency's expertise on this matter. We also have some concerns over the effect of the Project on long-snouted seahorses and black bream, but will defer to Natural England and the Seahorse Trust's expertise on this matter.
It is important to bear in mind that our position is based on our interpretation of the ES, which in turn is based on our experience of dealing with similar planning cases. But ultimately a judgment must be made on the significance of potential impacts. Others may judge the matter differently – and we respect that.
Ultimately, it is the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State that will weigh the evidence and make a decision on the construction of this Wind Park.