Proposed wind turbines set to be constructed in Scone may pose a threat to what conservation group, Hunter Landscape Guardians have described as the last remaining Wedge-tail eagles in the Scone area.
However, literature supplied by the Australian Wind Association (AusWEA), stated virtually all man made structures present a risk to birds, yet the risk from wind turbines would be very small when compared to structures such as communication towers, buildings and transmission towers. According to AusWEA, studies in the United States have shown only 0.01 to 0.02 per cent of total collision related bird deaths came as result of turbines, while the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, alone killed between 375,000 and 500,000 birds.
Director of Climate Risk Doctor Karl Mallon, has conducted extensive research into the impact of wind turbines on birds and said studies have shown that if companies do environmental impact studies properly, wind farms should pose minimal impact on birds.
“Any structure will have an impact on birds, even French windows, but that impact can be very low if proper checking into migratory flight paths and feeding grounds on the proposed site is done correctly,” he said.
He also said it was important to consider the repercussions of not swapping to green energy.
“Research into climate change indicates there will be a severe impact on birds including changed behaviour, migration dates, nesting seasons and feeding times. Timing of behaviour is generally changing all around the world.”
According to Dr Mallon, a change in timing can be disastrous for birds which are breeding in areas that can not provide food sources at different times of the year.
“Unfortunately the bigger picture is that we are looking at the extinction of some species. There is no excuse for putting wind farms in poor locations, but the long term impact of climate change is fixed.”
However, Hunter Landscape Guardian Carmelle Lymbery said the fact there are only four Wedge Tail eagles in the Scone area means they must be protected.
Australian bird expert, Dr Eric Woehler who spoke to the ABC recently, shared the opinion saying wind turbines were ‘black holes’ for Wedge- tail eagles. In the article, he was quoted as saying the 67 strong windfarm in Woolnorth Tasmania was a one-way ticket for eagles.
“The tips of some of the very large blades are 45 metres long, and some of these are travelling at approximately 300 kilometres an hour, it’s just too fast for the birds to avoid’, he told the ABC.
Mrs Limbery said she and her husband had hand fed one pair of Wedge-tails through seven years of drought and to see them taken away would be heart breaking.
“Barry and I have been here for 28 years and we will keep fighting to try and stop it.
“They’re just taking our lives away,” she said.
By Nikki Taylor
28 February 2008
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