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GPS Tracking To Protect Geese From Wind Turbines

GPS tracking technology is being utilised to help protect nature from the increasing spread of wind farms. Five male Svalbard barnacle geese have been tagged with GPS trackers during their over-winter stay in the Solway Firth. Staff at the Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, part of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, have fitted the tracking devices to trace flight paths used in the birds’ annual migration routes, and to identify altitude heights at which this takes place.

The data will be used to inform judgements on preferred sites for new wind turbines. Some sites which had recently been earmarked for new turbines were found to be right in the main flight corridor. As the UK’s planned expansion into offshore wind power gathers pace, WWT are looking at ways of using solar-powered GPS devices to help them fill information gaps in their knowledge of the birds’ flight altitude and whether they rest on the sea in those areas being earmarked for development.

Other areas of concern include the potential for collision, particularly in darkness or in sea fog conditions, or whether lights should be fitted to wind turbines. In January, no fewer then nine new offshore wind farm zones within UK waters were licensed; it is thought these alone will supply a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs

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