We have received the following message from Israel:
“Following a press release last week it seems that several of the leading industrial companies in Israel are going to enter the wind business. These are deeply connected to leading politicians. Our ministry of environment is quite hopeless. The future seems bleak.”
From Gibraltar, from Sicily, from the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and now from Israel, day by day more bad news comes in from the main bird migration flyways of the world. For windfarm developers think nothing of erecting their wind turbines in migration bottlenecks. Wind speed and maximisation of profit is their main concern.
Birds are killed by the large blades, whose tips revolve at speeds exceeding 100 mph while deceiving the victims by an appearance of slowness. In Sweden, one wind turbine is reported to have killed 895 birds in one year [ref: California Energy Commission, A Roadmap for PIER Research on Avian Collisions with Wind Turbines in California, Dec. 2002, quoting Benner et al. (1993)].
They also get killed by the powerlines, which are built next to each windfarm to carry puny amounts of this very expensive, intermittent electricity to the grid. According to the report “Protecting Birds from Powerlines”, high tension lines may kill over 500 birds per km per year in migration zones [ref: Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats – Birdlife International (2003)]. Smaller windfarms may not require high-tension lines, but overhead cables are still needed to connect to the distribution network, and they, too, maim and kill birds that collide in the fog, or at night, or while fleeing some danger.
In short: if someone wanted to set about exterminating the world’s migrating birds, placing windfarms in migration hotspots would be looked upon as best practice.
We are not doing any better in the UK. For instance, the “Bird Sensitivity Map to Provide Locational Guidance for Onshore Wind Farms in Scotland” designates practically the whole of the Western Isles as highly sensitive – except for two areas, one of them being the site where a windfarm project is seeking approval (Pairc).
Yet the Pairc environmental statement predicts the possible death of 66-165 golden eagles as a result of collisions with the giant blades. No other project in Scotland declares that it may kill so many eagles; and the subject of migrating birds is poorly addressed. The applicant for the Pairc windfarm is Scottish & Southern Energy.
The same map marks the whole of the Shetlands as highly sensitive, except for a few tiny yellow spots – presumably where Scottish & Southern Energy plans to erect more wind turbines. How on earth will migrating birds be able to avoid the giant rotors when adverse winds push them towards one of these “yellow spots”? or when they fly or make landfall at night? Yet a bird society is actually supporting a large windfarm project on Shetland. Don’t they know the island is a crucially important staging post for migrating birds?
Until these and many other pertinent questions are answered by the ornithological fraternity, we ask that all those who cherish Britain’s heritage of migratory and other birds ask their favourite bird society why windfarms are allowed in migration corridors, e.g., in the Hebrides or in the Shetlands. Also ask your electricity suppliers how much of the electricity supplied to your homes comes from wind. Details from BWEA’s web site indicate that windfarms supply only 1.5% of Britain’s electricity. Then ask yourselves if the slaughter of our birds is really necessary, and join the thousands who are already campaigning against the erection of these wind monsters across Britain.
March 26th 2008
Professor David Bellamy