Monitoring of fauna and flora as part of environmental impact assessment of wind farms

Monitoring of fauna and flora as part of environmental impact assessment of wind farms

Monitoring of fauna and flora as part of environmental impact assessment of wind farms

Since the beginning of the year there have been changes in the procedure of environmental impact assessment (EIA) of wind parks. Due to several procedures of EIA of wind farms, the Ministry of ecology and natural resources of Ukraine Energy and regional authorities have changed their requirements for the scope of surveys in the reports of EIA.

Now developers of wind parks must conduct annual monitoring surveys of  fauna in the territory for the construction of wind farms, and taking into account the results of such studies in the report of EIA report. These requirements are compulsory. Non-fulfillment of them can lead to non-approval of EIA and waste precious time (at least 65 working days) and the developer’s funds with impossible further design.

Reference: Ukrainian procedure of EIA is an adapted version of the European Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). The ESIA procedure is applicable to various entities applying for International Financial Corporation (WB, EBRD) funding. For wind farms, the ESIA procedure must include, among other things, monitoring of fauna, with particular attention for birds and bats.

Such changes is a major step towards in the field of environmental protection. For wind farm developers, in addition to taking into account the specific environmental features of a particular region during design, such surveys open up additional opportunities for attracting foreign investors, who will typically undergo an ESIA procedure.

There are no official instructions and recommendations in Ukraine at this time. Today, almost all countries have monitoring requirements adapted to their geographical features. The guidance of the Scottish Natural Heritage Fund and the Eurobats Conservation Agreement are the basis of almost all recommendations. The basis of these recommendations is specific survey methods: mobile (transect) studies of flora, terio-, ornitho-, herpeto-, batracho-, entomofauna, and bats. Because birds and bats are considered at high risk during the operation of wind turbines, these fauna species are given particular attention: bird observations and identification of bats by signals using stationary equipment.

MCL, in collaboration with British and German companies, bases its surveys on the main recommendations of the Scottish Fund and Eurobats.

However, such recommendations are not universal, their implementation requires adaptation for each specific windfield. Because each area has a unique geography, different vegetation, tree lines, MCL specialists prepare a monitoring program to perform systematic and methodological survey. The first visit to the site determines the observation points and locations of the equipment, taking into account the adequacy of the review and the implementation of the recommendations.

The results of surveys not only meet the requirements of the Ministry of ecology and natural resources, the regional authorities, public organizations in the report of EIA report. It allows reducing the environmental impact by identifying the vulnerable features of the territory and considering them in the macro site of the wind farm, and most importantly, this is a powerful tool in attracting investment. It is impossible to analyze the impact of wind farms on fauna and flora without such studies.

To date, thirteen of our specialist scientists have been trained by British specialists and are working in the territories of three future wind farms in Ukraine.

Thanks to a team of scientists, environmentalists and engineers, we are able to carry out environmental impact assessments for wind farms and to monitor fauna and flora in the general. This will help to optimize the workflow and carry out a proper environmental impact assessment.