ESTABLISHMENT-ORNITHOLOGISTS DEFEND ILL-SITED, EAGLE-KILLER WINDFARM PROJECTS
IF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOLLOWS THEIR ADVICE, THE SCOTTISH EAGLES ARE DOOMED.
Recipe for disaster : a fragile population of eagles in Scotland, and up to 100 windfarms to be built on the very slopes and ridges they routinely use for soaring, hunting, and interacting. Burying land mines on tracks used by endangered mammals would be less lethal to wildlife : mines explode, kill, and disappear. But wind turbines do not go away after a strike : they are still there when another eagle comes in to investigate, then another, and another, etc. They act as “sinks” where entire populations may disappear.
One hundred windfarms would translate into 2,000 – 4,000 turbines, i.e. as many ecological traps for the eagles. Another 4,000 - 8,000 will be sited on hills and in plains where eagles fly less often, or none at all.
Above picture : the Eishken Important Bird Area, IBA UK224, is home to 11 breeding pairs of golden eagles and to at least 2 pairs of white-tailed sea eagles. As such, it qualifies to be designated Special Protection Area for sea eagles, as there is none for that particular species in Scotland. Part of it overlaps with a National Scenic Area. Yet a windfarm is to be built there, with the approval of Scottish Natural Heritage. Other protected birds to be killed by the wind turbines include: merlins, peregrine falcons, red-throated divers, black-throated divers, golden plovers, dunlins, greenshanks, whooper swans, white-fronted geese and barnacle geese.
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To defend the ill-conceived policy of the Scottish Executive, establishment-ornithologists pretend that eagles avoid windfarms, or are “displaced” by them. But real life observations show the opposite to be true : a comprehensive field study by C. Thelander et al. (1) reveals that windfarms, on the contrary, attract raptors :
"raptors spent significantly more time flying at close proximity to turbine blades ... than 51-100 m away ... or >100 m away … Analyzing the total number of minutes of flight time reveals that something about wind turbines may attract red-tailed hawks to fly near turbines and at dangerous heights. Similarly, American kestrels flew in proximity level 1 (ie 1-50m from turbine) nearly four times longer than expected by chance, golden eagles two times longer, and northern harriers three times longer"
Mortality is independent from the type of turbines used : "It appears that factors other than tower type play more of a role in whether a particular turbine is associated with one or more fatalities, such as prey distribution about the tower´s base, physical relief, and presence of declivity winds. Regardless, the number of fatalities at tubular towers was higher than at horizontal lattice towers" (5)
And if any doubt remained, real life eagle mortality at windfarms around the world ( 2) provides ample evidence that Thelander et al. made correct observations.
Above picture : part of the Woolnorth windfarm in Tasmania, ruining a remarkable landscape. Its turbines have already killed more than 15 specimens of a rare raptor listed as an endangered sub-species : the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle. Did ornithologists raise the matter on international ornithology forums? - No. I had to do it myself.
Do they talk about it now ? - No.
Periodically, a study is put forward to justify the siting of windfarms in eagle breeding territories ( or even in “dispersion areas”, which is where their young forage and interact ) :
"SPATIAL ASSOCIATION AS AN INDICATOR OF THE POTENTIAL FOR FUTURE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENTS AND GOLDEN EAGLES AQUILA CHRYSAETOS IN SCOTLAND" (2006) - T Alan H. Fielding, D. Philip Whitfield, David R.A. McLeod
I have demonstrated time and again that this report is biased in favour of the wind industry, and terminally flawed. The authors were obviously influenced by a powerful conflict of interest . It is nothing new : “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.
For instance, the report says : “Although there were records for over 500 wind farm proposals at various stages of development, relatively few coincided with (golden) eagle territories (ca. 4% of territories had a proposal within 3 km of territory centre).”
For one thing, it is unacceptable that 4% of GE territories ( i.e. 18 breeding ranges ) may have lethal wind turbines within 3 km of their centre : we know that the species is in “demographic difficulty” in Scotland (3). Any additional death may send the national population into decline.
In addition, this 4% is a gross misrepresentation of the risk : by a stroke of the pen, the authors disregard the numerous windfarms to be installed 3 to 9 km from GE territory centers, a band that represents 70-90% of the area that constitutes a GE breeding range, and where they fly. The 3-km core range, or "territory" that the eagles will defend, is much smaller than their home range, which MacGrady et al. estimate to be a circle with a 6 to 9-km radius (4).
In other words, thanks to the biased study, windfarm developers may draw unrealistic, arbitrary 3-km-radius circles around GE breeding territory centers, and site their windfarms next to the circles at 3.1 km from the centers. A case in point : the Pentland Road windfarm project, within the Lewis Peatlands SPA ( which lists golden eagles as qualifying interest ! ). That windfarm was approved by SNH in disregard of European Birds and Habitats Directives ( SNH : Scottish Natural Heritage - an agency of the Scottish Executive ).
Above picture : a young white-tailed sea eagle killed at the Smola windfarm, Norway. Fourteen sea eagles have been killed by the Smola turbines already. Other Norwegian windfarms, like Hitra, are also killing eagles, but as they are not monitored, the public doesn´t know - except for one eagle carcass found accidentally at Hitra - see Eagles and wind farms : mortality statistics.
As if killing breeding pairs was not enough, immature eagles are also at risk . Says the biased report´s summary : “Similarly, only 2% of habitat predicted to be suitable for non-breeding eagles overlapped with proposed or installed wind farm areas.”
What remains unsaid is that these 2% are largely ridges and hilltops, i.e. topographical features that young eagles use preferably to the rest of the “suitable habitat”, if only to get lift from declivity winds. - Says the poacher to the game warden : but !... I only put my traps on animal paths, and these only represent 2% of the whole forest !
The authors are inexcusable for adopting "the poacher´s approach". They should know better.
The authors of the terminally flawed report are specialists in their field, highly regarded in Scottish ornithological circles. Two of them give their addresses as being SNH. It is an "official" study, commissioned to reply to critics such as myself. In fact, it is a de facto license to kill, and to drive into extinction a species that is “protected” by European legislation.
See : Windfarms to wipe out Scottish eagles
I reported my concerns to the European Commission, with all of the evidence gathered over 5 years of investigation. Yet this is the reply I received : "your complaint is currently undergoing a preliminary assessment with a view to proceed or not to its formal registration in the Commission´s official complaint register. (We) will contact you soon and inform you on the follow up of your complaint. " That was on August 22nd of this year.
I wrote the present article to make sure the EC does not adopt the flawed argumentation of self-serving establishment-ornithologists, thus condemning the Scottish eagles. This way, at least, they won´t be able to argue that they did not know how bad the "science" was.
More in the next article . Windfarms : the killing of Scottish eagles will not stop
Mark Duchamp.......................................................... November 23rd 2007
The dark side of windfarms : The negative effects of windfarms: links to papers published by Mark Duchamp
Pictures of windfarm victims ( eagles etc. ), of turbines on fire, of collapsed turbines, of soil & water contamination etc. :
(1) - "raptors spent significantly more time flying at close proximity to turbine blades ... than 51-100 m away ... or >100 m away … Analyzing the total number of minutes of flight time reveals that something about wind turbines may attract red-tailed hawks to fly near turbines and at dangerous heights. Similarly, American kestrels flew in proximity level 1 (ie 1-50m from turbine) nearly four times longer than expected by chance, golden eagles two times longer, and northern harriers three times longer"
BIRD RISK BEHAVIORS AND FATALITIES AT THE ALTAMONT PASS WIND RESOURCE AREA, by Thelander, C. G, Smallwood, K.S., Rugge, L. - Period Of Performance: March 1998-December 2000, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Report SR-500-33829, 2003. SMALLWOOD
(2) – Eagles and wind farms : mortality statistics
(3) - A CONSERVATION FRAMEWORK FOR THE GOLDEN EAGLE IN SCOTLAND - REFINING CONDITION TARGETS AND ASSESSMENT OF CONSTRAINT INFLUENCES , by Philip Whitfield, Alan H.Fielding, David R.A. McLeod, Paul F. Haworth and Jeff Watson (2006). - My comments here : Windfarms to wipe out Scottish eagles
(4) - “…..taken as simple Thiessen polygons around territory centres using Dirichlet tessellation with a maximum ranging distance of 6 km in the absence of territorial neighbours (McGrady et al., 1997, 2002; McLeod et al., 2002a,b) " - as quoted by Whitfield et al. in their introduction to : A CONSERVATION FRAMEWORK etc ( see (3) above ).
And, from the Beinn an Tuirc windfarm Environmental Impact Assessment:
“In the absence of any other data to map the ranges of golden eagles, a model has been produced by the Forestry Commission to predict the likely range of a breeding pair of eagles (MacGrady et al). This model predicts the range to cover an area of c. 255 sq.km extending up to 9 kms from the territory´s center. 98% of the time will be spent within 6 kms of the territory center.”
(5) - "It appears that factors other than tower type play more of a role in whether a particular turbine is associated with one or more fatalities, such as prey distribution about the tower´s base, physical relief, and presence of declivity winds. Regardless, the number of fatalities at tubular towers was higher than at horizontal lattice towers"
BIRD RISK BEHAVIORS AND FATALITIES AT THE ALTAMONT PASS WIND RESOURCE AREA, Thelander, C. G, Smallwood, K.S., Rugge, L. - Period of Performance: March 1998-December 2000, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Report SR-500-33829, 2003. SMALLWOOD
>> Autor: marcos (23/11/2007)
>> Fuente: Mark Duchamp
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