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WINDFARMS - RED ENERGY
A SCANDAL IN SCOTLAND
Environmental impact studies read by the author are flawed, and a confidential annex contains shocking lies bordering on cynicism. The RSPB only raises circumstancial objections, resulting in the deceit being effective - the windfarm project obtains approval to be placed in a busy eagle interacting and soaring area.
Windfarms are often set up in wilderness areas because: 1) they need vast expanses of land 2) conveniently, there are no neighbours to raise objections 3) eagles, swans and geese cannot protest.
But what of the defenders of our feathered friends, the bird societies?
I am just returning from a trip to Scotland, Northern England and Wales, where I have read a few environmental impact assessments (EIA). I knew before I went that wind turbines were lethal to anything that flies: eagles, kites, harriers, falcons, hawks, owls, swans, geese, storks, grouse, songbirds, bats etc. Thousands of deaths have been documented in the world so far*, millions go unreported. * Birds and windfarms - Bird Genocide at windfarm sites
Much effort is being made to hush-up the killings: promoters are wary that their projects may be defeated on such grounds. As a result, consultants are hired with a purpose: to prove that the turbines will not decimate the populations of endangered species living around them. Sensitive birds are handled in a "confidential annex"so that nesting locations are not disclosed to the public. But it has the added advantage that they can write anything they want.
To show you what I mean, I will give you a few examples.
1) First example*: the consultant "predicts" that eagles will stay clear of the rotors. This is based, says he, on studies about raptor behaviour in the presence of wind turbines. Shrewdly, he uses obfuscating pseudo-scientific jargon: the birds will show a "non-preference" for the turbine area.
*Supporting document (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/EDINBANE/Confidential_Annex_EIA.pdf)
This is a fallacy. Golden eagles and other raptors are known to fly into the area swept by the blades, whose tips rotate at speeds up to 292 kmh*. It has been known for years that biologists contracted by the California Energy Commission have documented a yearly death rate of 40 to 60 golden eagles** at the vast Altamont Pass windfarm, plus 400 hawks, kestrels and owls each year.
* Birds and windfarms – Bird and Bat Behavior at windfarm sites.
** Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites. - section 3
Other evidence that eagles are being killed is available from two different areas in Spain, and from Germany and Australia.*
* Birds and windfarms - Critical analysis of 4 reports on bird mortality at windfarm sites.
2) Other example, from the same EIA: in 60 hours of observation, 55 flights of golden eagles and 12 of sea eagles were recorded at the future windfarm site of Edinbane on the Isle of Skye. The golden eagles were flying 35% of the time within the range of height of the rotor blades; the sea eagles did it 50% of the time.
So how does the consultant handle this adverse evidence? - He "predicts" that there will be no "significant decline" in the eagle population because they fly much of the time "out with the proposed swept area of the turbine rotors".
This beggars belief. It goes beyond spin, and beyond lying. This is cynicism at its best. For what is being said is something like this: there is no problem with children crossing the dangerous highway in front of the school, because they spend 50 % of the time on the side-walk…
This is simply outrageous.
As he wrote it in a "Confidential Raptor Annex", the consultant obviously thought critical eyes would never see it. This annex was to be read only by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), and by SNH - Scottish Natural Heritage, a government agency in charge of preserving wilderness, among other social treasures; but they take their orders from the Scottish Executive, and He is very bullish on windfarms.
The RSPB, however, is independent, and the mission of its officers is to care for the birds. So it is all the more shocking that they did not object to such duplicity. Copies were leaked of letters* written by their senior officer responsible for the Isle of Skye. She was content with asking for more information on various points of detail, so as to be able to recommend appropriate "mitigation measures" (see point 3 below).
She was acting upon instructions from the top management, obviously, for no conscientious ornithologist would even consider such a project. Indeed, it is a repetition on a smaller scale of the sinister Altamont Pass windfarm in California. In both cases we are dealing with an eagle dispersion area - and here we have an aggravating factor: the presence of rare and precious white-tailed sea eagles. Besides, a second windfarm is to be erected on the next ridge, also part of the same dispersion area. Its name is Ben Aketil, and we have maps* showing the flights of eagles and other protected species. The cumulative effect will be disastrous.
* Ben Aketil flight maps (http://www.iberica2000.org/documents/EOLICA/)
3) Mitigation measures.
Worldwide, it is common practice to recommend mitigation measures that will bring revenues to those who recommend it. The most frequent consists in the "monitoring" of the bird population after the windfarm is built.
Will post-construction monitoring mitigate anything? We know from the Altamont Pass experience that, having in 20 years killed up to 1000 eagles, 6000 hawks and falcons and 2000 owls, the windfarm is still operating and will continue indefinitely. This is in spite of being "mitigated" by monitoring studies, which were more beneficial to the people conducting them than to the birds.
So let´s not be fooled when we hear that the negative effects of a windfarm will be "mitigated". This is just a smoke screen. Other mitigation typically consists in recommending that a particularly poorly sited turbine be eliminated, or placed elsewhere; that the windfarm be built outside the breeding season - measures that sound good but will make little difference in the end.
4) The farcical "habitat enhancement" is another mitigation measure, one that was used at Beinn ann Tuirc and other windfarms built on known ranges of breeding eagles:
A) Destroy the eagles´hunting grounds by removing the heather and dispersing the grouse population.
B) Try and create a new grouse habitat in an area nearby, away from the turbines, planting new heather - which will not be sufficiently grown till 5 or 7 years after the windfarm is built (but who cares?)
C) Predict that the eagles will stop flying over their usual core range and go for the grouse in the "enhanced habitat".
What will happen in fact is that grass will grow after the heather is gone, and rabbits and hares will take residence under the turbines, as they normally do. The eagles will go for them, and mice will attract smaller raptors. And as the rotors kill airborne predators, prey will remain abundant and attract more of them. As in Altamont, a black hole is created: a population sink for eagles.
>> Autor: Mark Duchamp (27/12/2003)
>> Fuente: Mark Duchamp
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