Wind farm turbines take toll on birds of prey
22 September 2014
EAGLES, falcons and other raptors make up to a third of the estimated 1500 birds killed each year at Australia’s biggest wind farm.
The finding of an independent report for Macarthur Wind Farm operator AGL follows 12 monthly searches of 48 turbines at the 140-turbine operation in Victoria that found 576 bird carcasses.
After adjusting for birds eaten by scavengers between searches and the total 140 turbines, Australian Ecological Research Services estimated each turbine killed about 10 birds a year.
The analysis said this would include 500 raptors a year.
AGL has confirmed that 64 bird fatalities were found during the official searches and an additional 10 carcasses were found near turbines by maintenance personnel, landowners or ecologists when not undertaking scheduled carcass searches.
The total included eight brown falcons, seven nankeen kestrels, six wedge-tailed eagles, one black falcon, two black-shouldered kites and one spotted harrier.
But an AGL spokesman said the report had “shown no significant impact on threatened species”. The company said overall estimates of bird and bat mortality “are subject to several sources of bias which may result in inaccurate estimates”.
The report recommended more frequent searches of a smaller number of turbines to get a more accurate assessment.
Australian Ecological Research Services said there were several reasons for the high percentage of raptors killed. They were at higher risk of collision with turbine blades possibly due to a combination of factors such as the altitude they mostly fly at, the proportion of time spent flying and flying behaviour.
“Raptors tend to glide slowly and are constantly looking downward for potential prey, rather than flying in a single direction and looking where they are heading,” the report said. “This may increase their risk of flying through the rotor-swept area of turbines.
“Other studies have also suggested that raptors are more likely to collide with turbine blades than many other avian species due to their morphology and foraging behaviour.”
Anti-windfarm campaigner Hamish Cumming said: “If someone shot this many birds they’d be fined and jailed and there would be public outrage.
“But, somehow, we’re expected to just accept it if they are killed by a wind farm.
“And before anyone rolls out the tired old mantra of ‘statistics show more birds get killed flying into suburban windows’, just tell me when was the last time a wedge-tailed eagle flew into your lounge room window?”
The report referred to above is available here: Macarthur bat and avifauna mortality monitoring report full. For a detailed rundown on what it says see Hamish Cumming’s email below.
The wind industry and its parasites have – from the outset – pitched their fans as a “planet saving, clean, green and environmentally friendly technology”; which doesn’t quite gel with the wholesale slaughter of birds and bats. Let’s call it an “inconvenient truth” (see our post here).
Were anyone caught shooting eagles or other protected raptors 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.
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:
Armed with the report detailing the carnage at Macarthur, Hamish sent this pointed email to a couple of monstrous “green” hypocrites: Victorian Green, Greg Barber and Cam Walker who heads up economy wrecking ecofascist outfit, Enemies of the Earth:
Well Greg and Cam,
I know you both hug wind turbines more than you do trees these days, but what are you going to do about the slaughter of raptors at Macarthur.
AGL’s own report, which they state is likely to be conservative due to monitoring methods being poor, estimates a kill of 10.19 birds per turbine, (1426 per years) 30% of which are raptors.
This is 5 times the original estimation of bird kills and nearly 100 times the original raptor kill estimate.
AGL are also not following Planning Panel recommendations and are not shutting down problem turbines which are in some cases killing 80 birds per turbine just in two seasons.
So-called Greens and so-called Friends of the Earth are just standing by and watching it happen just because it is a wind farm.
If this was a forest being cleared, a developer destroying habitat or coal fired power station causing such carnage and devastating species numbers in a region, you would be beating your chests and in every media possible. Yet you both just sit there and do nothing, because it is a wind farm.
Bob Brown stood up to the wind farm companies at Woolnorth in Tasmania when 11 eagles were killed, because they found that as one is killed another comes in to take over the territory. Raptors are attracted to wind farms to feed on the smaller birds killed by turbines. Wind farms become a species sink for raptors and can deplete a whole area out to many kilometres. This is now happening at Macarthur, with hundreds being killed in just one year.
Today I received the Bat and Avifauna Mortality Monitoring report published June 2014.
Page 22 of the report (attached) shows AGL turbines are reportedly killing 10.19 birds per turbine per year or 1426 birds a year. That is killing birds at approximately 5 times the rate estimated at the time the permit was issued. Page 22 also shows that 30% of these deaths are raptors, even though they are less than 1% of the birds observed at the site during utilisation studies.
On Page 23 the report concludes that the once a month monitoring of 28% of turbines is insufficient, and should be changed to weekly surveys, as data from pages 14 to 17 shows many carcasses are removed within 2 weeks of death by predators
In the Macarthur Panel Hearing, consultant Bret Lane stated that there were very few birds of prey utilising the site and even fewer water birds. The panel commented at the time that this record was unexpectedly low considering the waterways, wetlands and terrain.
It was stated that the risk of collision of raptors was low.
The claim by wind farm consultants at that time was mortality at Australian wind farms was between 2 and 4 birds per turbine a year, but as Macarthur would not be shore based, the mortality would be lower. The consultant compared overseas (European and American) wind farm declared mortalities of .04 to 3.4 deaths per turbine per year, but concluded Macarthur would be half of that.
So the permit was granted with the expectation that mortality would be in the order of a maximum of 2 deaths per turbine per year.
In reality, the first year AGL have declared an average of 10 dead birds per turbine per year, with some individual turbines killing more than 80 each per year.
The panel concluded that:
The BAM Plan must include:
a) A strategy for managing and mitigating any significant bird and bat strike arising from the wind energy facility operations. The strategy must include procedures for the regular removal of carcasses likely to attract raptors to areas near generators and reporting on the species and numbers of carcasses found near generators. Such a strategy must ensure that any bird or bat strikes are detected within a short time frame.
(This has not happened and is likely to be increasing the problem)
The proponent also had to ascertain, the mortality rate for specified species which triggers the requirement for responsive mitigation measures to be undertaken by the proponent either on or off the wind farm site, to the satisfaction of the DSE.
Monitoring timing and frequency must be stated within the plan with intensity of monitoring increasing to coincide with the behaviours and movements of specific species.
A strategy to offset impacts if impacts are detected during monitoring.
(None of this has happened)
6. The panel recommends that the DSE recommended Management Actions required to address potential impacts on Brolga (and other species) be included in the EMP. They are:
- Upon approval (including pre-construction), commitment to ongoing observations of Brolgas within a defined radius (eg. 20 km or 30 km) and at specified times of the year – to better understand Brolga behaviour and record species numbers and breeding sites; this could involve local land owners. This information should be provided to DSE for sharing with the wider research community;
(This has not happened)
- Commitment to extended monitoring of bird and bat strike (on a specified schedule) with all species recorded. This information should be provided to DSE for sharing with the wider research community;
- Link the survey and monitoring to collection of relevant information such as rainfall and climate data and wind farm operations so that patterns over time can be tracked and analysed;
(This has partially been addressed in the report June 2014)
- Define the acceptable local population impact threshold. If this threshold is met at interval milestones, then continue the monitoring program but defer other mitigation measures. If the threshold is not met, then mitigation measures should be implemented. These might include measures to enhance habitat in the immediate vicinity of the wind farm or else in more protected locations, wind generator shutdown at critical times, and any other measure identified as the survey and monitoring programs are implemented; and
(None of this has happened)
- The management of the wind farm should be flexible enough to account for unanticipated impacts on Brolga (and other species), and include turbine shutdown protocols. The panel recommends that in addition to dead bird searches, bird monitoring include protocols for indirect disturbance impact assessments and avoidance studies as part of the EMP.
(I do not believe this has happened either)
How about both of you do something to stop the raptor deaths? The turbines should be switched off until there is a realistic and workable plan.
Take action now if you really care for the environment at all.
Nice work Hamish! STT doesn’t expect to see any meaningful response from Greg or Cam.
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 and 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.