The wind farm industry’s licence to kill

offshorewindturbinesIf you believe the wind industry and its lobby groups, this is the image (above) that depicts their operations: clean, harmless and efficient.

Repeatedly, the wind industry says turbines do no harm to birds, or to such a small number it doesn’t matter.

This is a lie.


The truth is that turbines are tenacious killers of birds. Everywhere turbines operate, the avian kill-rate is high.

The industry works hard to deny liability. Billions of dollars of profit are at stake. And the industry relies heavily on lobbying and community support from green groups.

So in this post, we would like to walk you through some of the issues of bird kills and wind turbines.

First up, wind turbines are now the biggest rotating machines in the world. Blades operate in a diameter of 120 metres and although the tips look to be traveling slowly, they are actually moving through the air very fast.

At an average wind speed of 13 -15 mph (20 kmh – 24 kmh), the tips are traveling at 120 mph (193 kmh). At maximum wind speeds, the blade tips are moving at 180 mph (290 kms).

So how easy is it for a bird to navigate a wind turbine?

Have a look at this brief YouTube clip. The bird strike happens about two minutes in.

This is what the Australian pro-wind energy group the Clean Energy Council says about wind farms and birds.

There have been some alarming claims about wind farms contributing to large numbers of bird deaths. Most of these can be traced to a single wind farm built in the United States around 30 years ago that was poorly sited in the flight path of migratory birds.

In Australia, planning conditions require extensive research on local bird life before and after construction, and as a result, bird deaths are rare.

brolgaIn Victoria, a study of the population of the brolga in south-west Victoria found declining numbers were the result of loss and degradation of habitat and predation of foxes, not wind farms in the regions.

Compared to bird deaths from collisions with buildings, electricity lines, cars, pesticides, communication towers and cats, the effect of wind farms on birdlife is small.

We need to comment on this.

Brolgas across western Victoria have dwindled to about 500 birds.

And the CEC is right. There was a study of the brolga population in that state. But guess who funded and controlled the study?

The CEC. That’s right.

A study of  one of the major species endangered by wind farms was co-opted by the wind farm-financed and supported Clean Energy Council. Even media inquiries about the study were handled by the media spokesman for the CEC.

In our opinion, the wind farm industry saw brolgas as a potential problem for the proposed rapid expansion of wind farms across western Victoria and so took the first-mover advantage.

The CEC also says planning conditions require extensive study of local bird life before wind farms are approved.

Those extensive studies are undertaken by consultants employed by wind farm companies. We have recently come across examples of one consultant writing two conflicting environmental reports about one particular region.

One report, for a wind farm company, played down the environmental impacts of the proposed development. A second, about land for an immediately adjoining proposed quarry site and undertaken on behalf of local residents, gave an entirely different environmental picture.

Our investigations suggest the use of environmental consultants by wind farms is an area riddled with corruption – and policed by no government body. (We’ve already written about this.)

We’ve heard stories of brolga nests being moved or tampered with, of studies being deliberately undertaken at a time when it’s known the birds are less in numbers, and of “surveys” being conducted that are little more than roadside stops with a quick look from a car window.

And people lie. Bare-faced and without hesitation. They present their “expert” reports to planning appeals then send their bulging invoices to the wind farm developer. Job done.

We know this matter has been drawn to the attention of the Victorian government Environment Minister Ryan Smith, the Ombudsman and the Fraud Squad.

In 2010, Save the Eagles International said Australian environmental consultancy Biosis Research had deliberately distorted data  (i.e. lied) in support of seven wind farm applications.

We plan to look at this issue further.

Take a minute or two to have a look at the US example of a wind farm and bird kills.

Writing in The Spectator in the UK, Clive Hambler, a lecturer in biological and human sciences at Oxford university, says wind farms devastate bird populations.

Mr Hambler, who trained as a zoologist, says wind farms are responsible for the deaths of millions of birds, including threatened species, every year.

He writes:

Every year in Spain alone — according to research by the conservation group SEO/Birdlife — between 6 and 18 million birds and bats are killed by wind farms.

They kill roughly twice as many bats as birds. This breaks down as approximately 110–330 birds per turbine per year and 200–670 bats per year.

And these figures may be conservative if you compare them to statistics published in December 2002 by the California Energy Commission: ‘In a summary of avian impacts at wind turbines by Benner et al (1993) bird deaths per turbine per year were as high as 309 in Germany and 895 in Sweden.’

Because wind farms tend to be built on uplands, where there are good thermals, they kill a disproportionate number of raptors.

In Australia, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle is threatened with global extinction by wind tasmanian-wedge-tailed-eagle-420x0farms. In north America, wind farms are killing tens of thousands of raptors including golden eagles and America’s national bird, the bald eagle.

Australia currently has about 1,000 turbines. Using Mr Hambler’s figures, annual bird kills by wind farms in this country would range from 110,000 to 330,000.

The government’s Renewable Energy Target would see 10 times the number of turbines in operation by 2020.

Do the math. Be conservative and halve Mr Hambler’s estimate, or even divide it by four.

Regardless, wind farms are responsible for a veritable massacre of large numbers of birds.

This is what the Sydney Morning Herald said in 2010.

The number of eagles killed by turbine blades at one of Australia’s largest wind farms is climbing, with a rare juvenile wedge-tailed eagle the 22nd to die at Woolnorth in Tasmania’s north-west.

The farm is killing two protected species at the rate of about 3.2 eagles a year, according to a count by the operator, Roaring 40s.

Most of the birds were wedge-tailed, but three white bellied sea eagles have also been killed by the blades, Roaring 40s avian ecologist Cindy Hull said in Hobart.

And these are figures supplied by a wind farm. Over the last three years we’ve constantly heard stories of wind farm operators actually employing people to collect bird carcasses and secretly dispose of them.

Wind farm proponents, like the Clean Energy Council, say more birds are killed by cars but that’s just wind industry weasel words again.

It’s not simply a numbers game. More chickens are killed at chicken farms but it’s the type of birds killed by wind farms – larger birds, more rare birds, more endangered birds, more birds of diminishing numbers.

And now, we’ve learned wind farm companies regularly make large donations to bird societies to shut them up. (Check out the link. It’s a google translation from a German newspaper but you’ll get the drift.)

Are we surprised by any of this? Not really. History is full of vicious corporate bastards who will do whatever it takes to make a dollar.

Are we surprised the green people and environmentalists choose to ignore this? Not really.  There may be a range of reasons for their myopia. Closed minds, extremism, money.  These days, it’s hard to get a handle on a movement that started out with such clarity and integrity but is now fueled by vested interests with other agendas.

As journalist Robert Bryce wrote:

For years, the wind energy industry has had a license to kill golden eagles and lots of other migratory birds. And yet, despite the toll that wind turbines are taking on wildlife, the wind industry wants to keep its get-out-of-jail-free card.

It’s just another example of big money being used to tell big lies in support of big wind industry profits.

*Photo credit. Black Springs farmer Kym Dixon next to a dead wedge-tailed eagle, which was found 180m from wind turbines in the South Australian town of Waterloo. Picture: Vanessa Hunter Source: The Australian

Breaking News: Environmental groups are reacting with shock and outrage to  a U.S. Department of Interior rule change that would allow private wind energy corporations to apply for unprecedented 30-year permits to kill  our nation’s national symbol, the Bald Eagle, as well as Golden Eagles.  See story here.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. I just love STT. Thanks for exposing the wind industry for what it is, a fraud, pure and simple, run on lies and mistruths. If you start with a meaningless power source, that will never replace fossil fuels and lie tooth and nail about that, you’ll lie about everything that prevents you from wallowing in billions of subsidies. When the wind industry provides a shred of proof to back up its nonsense claims about CO2 emissions reduction, I’d feel a lot better about the millions of bats and birds being slaughtered for no apparent purpose – except to placate the whims of a band of inner city arm-chair “greens”. But for the time being expect nothing but intellectual dishonesty from the thieves at the trough and the useful idiots that parrot the mantra on their behalf!

  2. Jim Wiegand says:

    No energy source comes anywhere close to killing as many raptors as wind energy does. No other energy source is allowed to pick up bodies of rare and protected species from around their production sites on a day-to-day basis, year-in and year-out. No other energy producer has a several thousand mile mortality foot print, like what wind energy has. No other Energy source has rigged their research and turned a fleet of experts into whores like the wind industry has. No other energy source has been given a free pass to conduct their business in such a manner and change any law that could limit their destruction.
    All this sets a precedent that should scare the hell out of everyone. Once people understand all of this, they will demand honest studies and insist that the wind industry obey the same environmental rules that all other industries must follow. This will require that wind turbines be sited only where the risk of bird deaths is minimal to zero; that turbines be replaced with new designs that birds recognize as obstacles and thus avoid; that fines be levied for every bird death, as is done with other industries; or that industrial wind simply go out of business.

  3. The autopsy report on the Waterloo Wedge Tailed Eagle in Vanessa Hunter’s photo above describes the eagle as having died of starvation after sustaining a compound fracture of it’s wing. The injury site showed bony callus formation and proliferation of granulation tissue along the skin defect margins. This fracture occurred two to three weeks prior to the time of death, while the bird was stranded, injured on the ground..

    In addition to taking some weeks to die of starvation, there was evidence that it was present at the site where it was found for some time before and after it died. Ie. Rotting into the ground, not placed there by someone trying to stage the incident as claimed by TRUenergy.

    I would say that the above video of the vulture strike gives credence to the conclusions of the Waterloo eagle autopsy report.

    It also raises serious questions about TRUenergy’s regime for checking for dead and injured bat and bird life, although it is debatable as to whether they would own up to injuring anything – just get rid of it. They have owned up to one kill of a nankeen kestrel so far. Yeah right!

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    It seems authorities given the work of deciding the environment soundness of projects are misunderstanding their role. Apparently it’s OK if turbines kill one or two birds/bats, they closing their eyes and minds to the fact one or two could result in the death of young birds in nests, or a creature losing or not finding a mate.
    One or two could end up killing 3 or 4+, or even a whole species.
    The Orange Bellied Parrot is almost extinct in the wild but killing one or two is OK given they MAY not range into the area of turbines.
    Little is known of the Bent Wing Bat. It is known it has two birthing caves one in SA and one in Victoria, but there is very little known of its feeding flights, and where the males rest during the day, yet projects are proposed in areas where it could have flight paths to feeding grounds and have resting caves.
    No research/surveys undertaken and paid for by the companies should be acceptable. Instead these should be conducted by independent researchers chosen at random from a list of people who have had no connection with the companies. This should then be paid for from a fund, funded by the companies with compulsory contributions.

  5. We have been lied to ever since the heydays of ENRON (remember ENRON, the first wind energy giant, who has been disbanded by a US tribunal because of fraudulent accounting?). The company no longer exists, but the “Enron boys” are still using their dirty tactics, many of them working in other windfarm organizations, making big bucks at the expense of wildlife, landscapes, and the health of windfarm neighbours.

    Here is another eye opener:

    “Big Wind tax credit exterminates endangered species
    Thousands of birds killed by wind turbines”


  1. […] The effect that wind power on this scale has on land values, scenic beauty or people’s health.  Or on wildlife.   The Spanish Ornithological Society estimates that Spain’s 18,000 wind turbines kill between […]

  2. […] But the operators of wind farms face no such criminal penalties – and get to slice and dice birds and bats of all shapes and sizes with impunity (see our posts here and here). […]

  3. […] covered the harm caused to our feathered friends by turbines in posts here and here and […]

  4. […] Something in the greentards’ wiring fails to connect turbines with the death and destruction they cause. […]

  5. […] And don’t forget the hundreds of thousands of birds and bats, including threatened and endangered species, which are killed every year by wind turbines. […]

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