RESEARCH conducted by a North-East ecologist has concluded that most windfarms do not significantly harm bird populations.

Steve Percival, of the Ecology Centre at the University of Sunderland, studied reports that significant numbers of birds, some of them rare, have died after colliding with turbines.

His research included windfarms in America, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands as well as those in the UK.

Among those studied was the windfarm at Blyth, on the Northumberland coast, where the rate for collisions per turbine was 1.34 a year, mostly gulls.

Publishing the results of his research in the journal British Wildlife, he concluded that the sites with the worst records had been badly positioned.

The world's blackspots are the Altamont Pass, in California, and Tarifa, the huge windfarm in southern Spain, both much larger than Blyth and both sited beneath raptor flightpaths.

Although the collision rate per turbine was relatively small, both less than Blyth, the vast number of turbines meant that large numbers of birds died each year.

At Altamont, they have included golden eagles, and griffon vultures have been killed at Tarifa. Both are endangered species which are protected globally.

Mr Percival wrote: "In contrast, the large majority constructed to date, particularly those in Britain, do not seem to have had any such impact."