398166_10151271441078661_1480080228_nWind farms have long been characterised as being harmful to wildlife, but thanks to a pioneering new partnership between the RSPB and one of the UK’s leading wind farm developers they could soon become established as valuable wild life habitats.

The charity has this week officially launched a partnership with Ecotricity that will see the two organisations work together on selecting new wind farm locations, establishing new wildlife habitats at renewable energy projects, and reducing the environmental impact of RSPB offices and visitor centres.

Specifically, the two organisations will work together to create what Ecotricity describes as “Britain’s first energy and nature projects that will integrate wildlife habitats into wind, wave, solar, and green gas generation projects”.

Meanwhile, the energy company will also build on its plans to install a wind turbine at RSPB’s headquarters in Bedfordshire with work to improve the energy efficiency at visitor centres and install electric car charging points across the charity’s estate.

“We’re already making green energy to cut the carbon emissions that cause climate change, which in turn impacts habitats and wildlife,” said Ecotricity founder Dale Vince in a statement. “This partnership takes that one step further, making closer links between nature and green energy.

“This is a long-term strategic partnership that will not only protect wildlife, but develop new habitat creation, and make the RSPB a more integral part of the process of our green energy projects.”

The RSPB has in the past opposed a number of proposed wind farm developments, but Harry Huyton, head of energy and climate at the group, reiterated that it remained fully supportive of well-located renewable energy projects.

“Switching to a low carbon economy is one of the defining challenges of our generation,” he said. “Failure would mean devastation for the world’s wildlife – but equally we must ensure that when we develop renewable energy projects we do our best to ensure they do not harm wild species in our countryside. That’s why the RSPB has committed to working with Ecotricity in a partnership that will unite us behind our common mission of a renewables revolution in harmony with nature.”

A spokesman for Ecotricity told BusinessGreen that the company already worked closely with the RSPB when considering planning applications, but would now consult with the group even earlier in the project development process in order to ensure the most appropriate locations are selected.

He also confirmed that the company was on track to lodge a planning application for the RSPB’s new turbine next month and revealed that meetings were scheduled between the organisations to explore how new habitats could be created alongside renewable energy projects.

A number of studies have suggested renewable energy projects could provide effective habitats for a range of species, given that they tend to be located in remote sites away from human settlements. For example, some scientists have predicted that offshore wind farms could provide valuable artificial reefs and protection from over-fishing that would benefit some species.

SOURCE – BusinessGreen