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Bats and seagulls face turbine threat

So even Tesco’s little wind turbine in Barrow is splatting birds (Seagulls beware, June 8).

The much bigger industrial machines can do devastating damage to birds, particularly large slow-flying ones such as raptors and big seabirds.

More recently we have realised that bats, already a seriously threatened group of animals, are very vulnerable.

New Scientist reported thousands of deaths in the US.

It is hardly surprising.

Modern 2-megawatt wind turbines make an apparently lazy 10 to 20 revolutions per minute, but the blades are around 40 metres long. Simple geometry shows that the blade tips travel at up to 300 kilometres per hour – as fast as a Formula 1 car!

In misty weather these aircraft-sized blades appear from nowhere, travelling in a curve, at intervals of between two and four seconds, a scenario that even a fighter pilot would find scary.

A bird has no chance in misty weather, and a bat’s echo-location system was not evolved to cope with such speed.

Dr John Etherington

Llanhowell, Pembrokeshire

North-West Evening Mail

12 June 2007