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Are wind turbines killing eagles?

The RSPB is calling for all wind farms to monitor bird deaths to work out if the turbines are killing rare species such as golden eagles.

At the moment there are no figures on how many birds are killed by wind turbines in the UK every year.

Some conservationists fear a “massacre” of eagles if more is not done to stop turbines being built in the wrong places.

Martin Harper, Director of Conservation at the RSPB, said thorough monitoring of a site for birdlife both before and after construction should be a mandatory part of planning permission.

He said surveys should not only take place before the wind farm is built, to ensure birds are not displaced from important habitat, but for three years after construction to see if birds are being killed by turbines.

“It should be Government policy. There should be a tighter regulatory regime.”

The RSPB are already working with the Scottish Government to collate a central register of bird deaths caused by wind turbines.

Last year the RSPB admitted that two hen harriers were killed by turbines at the Griffin Wind Farm, near Aberfeldy.

Mark Duchamp, of Save the Eagles International, said that in California 3,000 eagles have been killed over the last 25 years. In Spain 2,000 griffin vultures, that are similar to eagles, are killed every year, he added.

He said birds are being killed in the UK – but because there is no monitoring the public is unaware of the killing and construction continues. There are more than 10,000 turbines in planning or already buiilt in the UK.

There are plans to build a wind farm on Eishken on the Isle of Lewis and Edinbane on the Isle of Skye, where there are a high number of young eagles.

Mr Duchamp said there is “most probably a massacre of eagles in the UK” and the RSPB are not doing enough to stop turbines in the wrong place.

“The wind turbines are going to exterminated the young eagles in scotland. So where does that leave Scotland 20 years from now and the RSPB has looked the other way completely?”

The RSPB has come under fire recently for taking money from developers that build wind farms.

The bird charity receives £60 for every member who switches their gas and electricity supply to the ‘green electricity’ company Ecotricity.

It also receives £40 each time a customer opens an account with Triodos Bank.

In a previous partnership with Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE), the RSPB admits to having made £1 million over ten years.

Mr Duchamp accused the charity of condoning a “cover up”, by giving money to companies building wind farms that could be responsible for bird deaths.

“The RSBPB is lending its name to make the public think that wind farms are not dangerous to birds when in fact they are.”

But Mr Harper pointed out that the RSPB is independent and has protested against a number of wind farms, including ones promoted by SSE.

He said wind farms are only dangerous to birds when sited in the wrong place.

He said climate change remains a great threat to birds and the charity is committed to supporting renewables as part of moving away from fossil fuels.

“The most important thing is not to build these wind farms in stupid locations,” he said.

The RSPB is currently carrying out tests to see if a 330ft wind turbine is viable outside its headquarters in Bedfordshire before applying for plannig permission.