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Wind of change blamed for danger to wildlife  

Bats and garden birds are being injured and killed in collisions with domestic wind turbines attached to people’s homes, an environmentalist has warned.

John Stoneman, of Cambridgeshire Environmental and Wildlife Protection (CEWP) Welney, has launched a campaign to highlight the dangers of the supposed energy saving turbines, which he claims in fact have very little benefit.

Mr Stoneman said the garden was the only sanctuary and refuge available for many diminishing species and he was urging manufacturers of mini turbines to carry out environmental-impact studies.

He said: “Bats are already a heavily protected species but they are being put in danger by domestic turbines.

“It has been acknowledged that wrongly-sited industrial wind turbines have an impact on large birds, and we are concerned this problem is now being brought down to rooftop level. People are becoming greener and environmentally conscious and I want to make them aware there is a potential impact from these turbines on garden birds.

“If we are going to cure one problem, we need to be sure we don’t create another.

“If people wish to be greener they can have a much greater effect by doing things like turning off lights and drawing their curtains to retain heat. Solar panels can also be bought for the same price, and we know for a fact that they don’t kill birds.”

Matt Heydon, from the wildlife management and licensing department at Natural England, said people needed to be conscious not to harm wildlife when taking steps to help the environment.

He said: “We are unaware of any scientific research on whether household wind turbines seriously threaten our wildlife, but there have been a few anecdotal reports of bats being killed by them.

“We would urge people to think about how a turbine on their house might affect wildlife, particularly animals that use buildings to roost or nest and especially those that are protected by law such as bats and birds. Natural England is here to help and we will happily give advice to anyone contemplating installing a wind turbine.”

But Mel Francis, of environment charity Sustainable Energy Action (SEA), defended domestic turbines.

She said: “It won’t meet all your energy needs but it will be a proportion.

Depending on where you are positioned, you can get 20-30 per cent of your electricity needs.”

DIY stores are now selling mini wind turbines for about £1,500, and Peter Carter, principal planning officer at Cambridge City Council, warned permission would be needed if the turbine exceeded ridge height of the building.

He said: “We are waiting to see if the Government gives guidelines, but at the moment if the wind turbine exceeds the ridge of the building the owner needs permission.”

â–  MORE and more houseboat owners in Cambridge are installing wind turbines.

Luther Phillips, a spokesman for Camboaters Community Association, said about 20 boats on the River Cam had domestic turbines to enhance their energy supplies.

He said: “They are beneficial to everyone who has one.

“They are not obstructive, and I have never heard of them being a danger to wildlife.

“They help you save money and stop you tapping into the national grid. It is an environmentally-friendly way to get your electricity and saves using up the world’s energy resources.

“In a year or two you would probably be able to recoup the cost, and save on your electricity bills.”

Mr Phillips said boat owners on the Cam were looking into the possibility of a water turbine to generate electricity to boats and homes in the area.

Mr Phillips added: “We live a low- impact way of life on the local community, and therefore I would like to see the Cambridge community help boaters live an environmentally-friendly way of life.”


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