A study into how effectively birds can avoid offshore wind turbines is to be carried out at the North Sea windfarm opposed by Donald Trump.
Swedish energy firm Vattenfall, which operates the 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) 1.5 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast, said the research would help understand the likelihood of birds colliding with windfarms.
Bird specialists have been invited to bid for research funding from the development’s three million euro scientific programme.
The study, lasting between two and three years, will start in spring, and is thought to be one of the first times research has been carried out at this scale at an operational windfarm during the breeding season, focusing on the northern gannet, black-legged kittiwake and large gulls.
The centre is Scotland’s largest testing and demonstration site for offshore wind and has the country’s most powerful turbines of this type, which started exporting power to the National Grid in July.
Danielle Lane, Vattenfall’s UK country manager, said: “The industry, decision makers and ornithology specialists rightly take great care when assessing the impact of offshore wind turbines on bird populations. The more data we have, the more confident that decision making can be.
“That’s why we expect this research, combined with others, to boost understanding and improve collision prediction models.
“This will go a long way to helping smooth the path for fossil-free offshore wind to make a telling contribution in the fight against climate change.”
RSPB Scotland, Marine Science Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage are among those supporting the research programme.
Aly McCluskie, RSPB Scotland Senior Conservation Scientist, said: “The EOWDC research programme has already produced important results and this latest call for bids will hopefully facilitate research that will shed light on bird behaviour and collisions at offshore wind farms.
“There is currently considerable uncertainty in our understanding of how birds behave in the vicinity of wind turbines, and we need to greatly improve this understanding in order to be able to accurately predict and prevent adverse impacts on bird populations.
“The UK is currently undergoing an unprecedented expansion in offshore wind farm development and while we welcome the urgent transition to renewable energy to tackle climate change, it is crucial that this should not be at the expense of our wildlife.”
The Trump Organisation unsuccessfully attempted to have the windfarm stopped at the planning stage, launching legal challenges over concerns it would spoil the view from its Balmedie golf course.