Wind Farms: Where Eagles Dare

SEA-EAGLE-Action-01

Stay low, big fella – almost certain death awaits above.

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Driven to extinction, reintroduced … now wind farms threaten sea eagles
Herald Scotland
Rob Edwards
25 May 2014

A senior member of bird charity RSPB Scotland has called for more careful consideration of wind farm planning after it emerged a wind turbine was officially blamed for killing a rare sea eagle.

The Sunday Herald can reveal a white-tailed sea eagle, reintroduced as part of a nature conservation programme, was found dead in February at Burnfoot Hill wind farm in the Ochil hills, near Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire. A post-mortem examination by Government-approved scientists concluded a “likely cause of death” was collision with a wind turbine.

Eagles have been killed by wind farms in Germany and Norway before, but no deaths have previously been recorded in Scotland. Conservationists stress that many more eagles are killed by landowners, gamekeepers, power lines and trains, but evidence that a sea eagle has now died after crashing into a wind turbine is likely to trigger renewed questions about where wind farms should be sited.

Sea eagles were driven to extinction in Scotland early in the 20th century, and have been reintroduced from Norway in a series of Government-backed releases beginning in the 1980s. Bigger than golden eagles, they are the UK’s largest bird of prey, with between 37 and 44 pairs now successfully breeding.

The dead sea eagle, known as Red T, was a male released in the east of Scotland in 2011. His body was found three months ago under a layer of snow beneath a wind turbine at Burnfoot Hill, which was developed by the Bristol-based company, Wind Prospect, and is owned and run by the French state enterprise, EDF Energy Renewables.

The RSPB commissioned vets from Scotland’s Rural College, which also works for the Scottish Government, to conduct a post-mortem. Their investigation ruled out death by poisoning, and discovered that two bones in the bird’s left leg were broken.

“Dark discolouration” around the head and neck suggested that the eagle had suffered trauma, the post-mortem report said. “Trauma consistent with, but not limited to, collision with a wind turbine has been recorded as the likely cause of death,” it concluded.

The death was “very disappointing”, said Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland. “This tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring wind farms are carefully planned to avoid our best places for wildlife.”

He said the RSPB was increasingly concerned about the number of applications for wind turbines in areas that, unlike the Ochils, were known to be important for eagles.

However, Smith pointed out that white-tailed sea eagles, Scotland’s biggest birds of prey, were far more likely to be killed by other causes. According to RSPB figures, since 2007, six had been killed by trains, eight by power lines and at least six illegally poisoned or shot.

The number which died because of illegal persecution may be much higher as cases can easily go undetected, the RSPB stressed.

Ron Macdonald, policy director with the government’s wildlife agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “Evidence has been growing from Europe that white-tailed eagles are fairly vulnerable to collision with wind turbines. Clearly we have to monitor the situation closely here.”

EDF Energy Renewables confirmed that “regrettably” a white-tailed sea eagle had been found dead at Burnfoot Hill, which has 13 100-metre high turbines.

The company’s head of asset management, Nick Bradford, said: “We take the utmost care in selecting potential sites and undertake extensive environmental studies including bird habitat and migration routes before constructing our wind farms.

“We will be working closely with RSPB and environmental consultants to determine what lessons can be learned and what might be done to prevent such incidents occurring in future.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The loss of any sea eagle is extremely disappointing, when so many people have worked so hard to bring back the species to Scotland.”
Herald Scotland

Predictably, the “conservationist”, Aedán Smith (read “wind power fraud apologist”) stresses: “that many more eagles are killed by landowners, gamekeepers, power lines and trains”. He could have added planes and automobiles.

The “conservationist”, Smith’s thinly veiled attempt to let giant fans off the hook is a bit like an accused armed robber mounting his defence on the basis that plenty of others had robbed the same bank before he did, so he simply can’t be guilty.

For a discussion on the inherent hypocrisy seen in arguments excusing the slaughter of millions of birds and bats by wind turbines see our post here.

And there’s a mighty big difference between wind turbines, on the one hand, and farmers or gamekeepers (armed with poison or guns), power lines, planes, trains and automobiles, on the other.

The wind industry and its parasites have – from the outset – pitched their fans as a “planet saving, clean, green and environmentally friendly technology”; whereas, the others in the list of offenders have never made any such claim.

Were anyone caught shooting or poisoning rare and endangered eagles they would face prosecution.

Kill a relatively common Wedge-Tailed Eagle in Australia and you’ll face 6 months imprisonment or a $10,000 fine. As the stories in these links show – when lads with a .22 do it – there is media “shock” and “outrage” at a crime worthy of condign punishment. In Scotland, similar offences carry a maximum penalty of £5000 or 6 months in prison and generate the same media outrage.

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).

The one thing that giant fans can’t be accused of is “prejudice”: they’ll slaughter anything that flies by; from bats to lowly seagulls, pelicans, majestic raptors and everything in between. Here’s just a few of their range of victims:

Seagull_head_11

Hard to keep your head when all those around you are losing theirs.

pelican

Wind turbine 1: majestic seabird 0.

eagle 1

Only half the bird he used to be.

dead_eagle_at_base_of_turbine

Victim in the foreground; villain to the rear.

bat

Unlike Batfink, his supersonic-sonar-radar didn’t save him.

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The wind industry kills millions of birds and bats across the world every year. In Spain alone, wind farms are killing between 6,000,000 and 18,000,000 birds every year. The figures come from 136 monitoring studies collected by the Spanish Ornithological Society. Here’s one take on the numbers killed by the Spectator.

A recent study in the US shows that the numbers of bird deaths accredited to turbines underestimates the true figure by more than 30%. (for the full story refer Smallwood, K Shawn. 2013. Comparing bird and bat fatality-rate estimates among North American wind-energy projects. Wildlife Society Bulletin 37: 19-33.)

When challenged about the slaughter, the standard wind industry response is to lie by denying it even happens.

When that fails to wash (mounting piles of carcasses at the bases of turbines don’t help), its spin doctors admit the “problem” but downplay the kill-rate, by asserting that the numbers are “made up” by “mysterious forces” backed by “big coal”.

If an unsatisfied challenger persists, the response is a resort to the ol’ chestnut about “saving the planet from cataclysmic climate change”. And, for dramatic effect, calling the challenger an anti-wind, climate change DENIER.

Of course, giant fans have absolutely NOTHING to do with global warming or climate change (whichever is your poison) – as they require 100% of their capacity to be backed up 100% of the time with fossil fuel generation sources (see our post here). That simple and unassailable fact means wind power cannot and will never reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector: the sole justification for the wind industry’s heavily subsidised existence.

After more than 20 years in operation, the wind industry has yet to produce a shred of credible evidence to support its claims about wind power abating CO2 – and all the evidence is to the contrary effect (see our post here; this European paper here; this Irish paper here; this English paper here; and this Dutch study here).

In the result, there is no environmental gain for an awful lot of avian pain.

Once the wind industry’s fallacious (self) justification is stripped away, the deaths of millions of birds and bats can be seen for what it is: nothing more than senseless slaughter.

eagle at waterloo

Another wind turbine victim bites the dust.

About stopthesethings

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

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