An ecological consultant is calling for more research into “bird kills” involving wind turbines following his discovery of a dead sparrowhawk close to a turbine within the Suffolk coastal strip.
The consultant, Tom Langton, from Sibton, near Saxmundham, a founder of the national Froglife conservation charity, made the discovery on Sunday when visiting the Africa Alive wildlife park at Kessingland where two 125-metre-high electricity generating turbines were built this summer by Triodos Renewables.
He said: “The dead bird was on short grass about 40 metres from the base of the turbine, together with feathers spread either side of it in a circle of about 10 metres, suggesting it was impacted from some height and then dropped down.
“The bird had a chop-like gash extending from the side of its back to the rear of the skull, consistent with being struck by or flying into a blunt moving object.
“There was nothing to suggest another cause of death and in my view this was almost certainly caused by a wind turbine blade collision.
“My guess is that the hawk did not see the blade which would have been moving quite slowly at that time, but 10mph is probably enough for a fatal hit.”
Mr Langton, who has acted as a consultant on various wind turbine development plans, said last year he had seen a gull take last-minute avoiding action on one of the turbines.
“At full speed they look lethal and more research into their impact on birds is desperately needed,” he added.
Conservation groups have long expressed concern about bird kills involving wind turbines and the RSPB objects to such developments where it believes the risks are unacceptably high.
Matthew Clayton, Triodos Renewables operations director, said: “There is a misconception that wind farms cause disproportionate harm to bird populations, when research has shown that by far the largest causes of avian mortality caused by humans are buildings (or more precisely the windows), power lines and domestic cats. But from time to time deaths do unfortunately occur, and we as developers and the planning process take into account the impact of local bird populations when considering sites.
“We welcome any further research which means that decisions are made on a scientific basis.”
A recent report by the Centre for Sustainable Energy concluded that out of every 10,000 bird deaths, less than one can be attributed to wind turbines, compared with 5,820 due to buildings and 1,370 to power lines.
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