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More bird, bat study opinions emerge: Local opponents warn about impact  

Self-proclaimed bird lover Larry Newhart lives at the top of Call Hill in Hartsville, where he watches birds frequent the nearly 50 birdhouses on his property.

Among all the species of birds that have made a pit stop at his property, he said even migrating bald eagles have made an appearance.

“I observe, on a daily basis, raptors seeking updraft in search of food,” Newhart said.

News of a recently released consultants’ study that found 123 birds and 326 bats dead – during a five-month period last year beneath approximately 50 turbines on the Tug Hill Plateau – has him worried the impact may be even more severe on birds and bats than the study found.

“It’s not a good thing for avian life,” Newhart said, adding he’d previously contacted Cornell University’s ornithology department to check on impact turbines have. “I’m going to send this information out to Cornell to see if that engages them.

“Hopefully, we can put everything on hold while more research is conducted,” he added. “I would compare this to the FDA putting out a new drug and not testing it until they put it out on the market, then realizing “˜This is more harmful than we thought.'”

Newhart said he was offered a lease by Airtricity, the wind company proposing a wind farm project for the Town of Hartsville, but turned it down.

“I turned it down because I was concerned about the impact on avian life,” he said.

He doesn’t expect the study to have much of an impact, however, on slowing down the development of wind farms.

“This is about money and anyone who’s got a signed lease, nothing’s going to sway their minds,” Newhart said. “I don’t see any good coming from this, and I don’t see anyone I can go to to present my concerns and get any action.”

Newhart’s feelings were in line with another wind farm opponent’s – Eric Hosmer of Howard. On Thursday, Hosmer said he feels like wind farm tests aren’t focused on the impact to people.

“You’ve got to rely on animals to protect the people,” he said, adding the latest study is a concern for people concerned with potential adverse affects from wind farms. “That is one issue of many issues that need to be addressed before rushing into a project like this.”

Hosmer has been a vocal critic of that town’s wind ordinance, as well as the town board’s involvement with a potential wind farm project by EverPower in the community.

“It’s a concern to people trying to slow the process down so we can get better information and real factual information,” he said, “before we push these things through that we’ll have to live under for 20 or 40 years.”

Kevin Sheen of EverPower, the wind company proposing a wind farm in the Town of Howard declined to comment on the report specifically, saying he had not read it yet. He did, however, say bird and bat kill is something EverPower studied when determining where turbines should be located in Howard.

“I would point to the draft EIS (environmental impact statement), that shows we did various bird migratory and avian impact studies,” Sheen said. “We’re very confident we determined locations in Howard that are not in a busy migratory pattern.

“We feel the placement of the turbines are responsible in terms of avian impact,” he added.

As for post-turbine placement studies, Sheen wasn’t sure whether it would be required with the Howard project.

“I know, in certain areas, they do ask for post screening, such as in Pennsylvania,” he said.

By Rob Montana
Staff Writer

The Evening Tribune

1 June 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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