Government policy ensures that all wind farm applications made under Section 36 of the Electricity Act are accompanied by an environmental impact assessment which includes details of the likely impact on all parts of the environment, including birds. Application for smaller-scale windfarms are submitted to the relevant planning authority to determine under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and it would be for that authority to say whether an EIA was required.
When an application is considered, consultation will take place with a range of stakeholders, including statutory advisers on nature conservation and protection of the environment, as well as others who express an interest in the proposal. This ensures that decisions on whether to give approval for a wind farm are considered in the light of the best available information about its likely impacts.
In addition, should it be considered that there could be an impact on protected species or their habitats then an appropriate assessment must be undertaken pursuant to the Conservation (Natural Habitats,&c.) Regulations 1994, irrespective of who the decision taker may be. In such circumstances the decision taker must consult the appropriate nature conservation body (English Nature, the Countryside Council for Wales or Scottish Natural Heritage) and take its views into account before making any decision on whether to approve the application.
Furthermore, the DTI has established a Research Advisory Group to fund research into the impact of wind farms on the environment. This includes a joint study with wind farm developers and DEFRA to collect data on the distribution of sea birds in the three strategic offshore wind farm areas, the results of which will inform decisions on the grant of consent for wind farm projects in those areas.