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RSPB gives the go-ahead to bird-killing windmills

The RSPB vowed last night to press ahead with plans for a wind turbine at its headquarters despite one of the ­rarest birds seen in the UK being killed by one last week.

Twitchers had flocked to the Outer Hebrides for a glimpse of the world’s fastest-flying bird, a white-throated needletail, only spotted on these shores eight times since 1846.

Yet within hours of it arriving on the Isle of Harris the bird, capable of 106mph, had dropped dead after flying into a turbine blade.

The needletail, which should have been in Siberia but was thousands of miles off course, was described by enthusiasts as the “bird of the century” to spot here.

Its death has reignited the furious debate among birdwatchers about the RSPB’s tacit support for the wind farm industry. Critics claim the UK’s leading bird charity has ignored fears that tens of millions are killed by the growing number of wind farms appearing worldwide.

The RSPB is thought to have objected to only six per cent of new developments. There are more than 10,000 ­turbines in the UK or in the pipeline.

One estimate claims a working turbine kills between 110 and 330 birds every year, which countrywide would mean a 1.1 million annual death toll.

The RSPB says a 300ft turbine at its headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire, could provide two-thirds of the charity’s electricity across its UK operation.

“Climate change is the biggest threat facing wildlife and, indeed, mankind,” said its spokesman Grahame Madge.

“We believe that renewable energy is an essential tool in the fight against ­climate change, which poses the single biggest threat to the long-term survival of birds and wildlife. So we are doing everything we can to bring down greenhouse gas emissions to help stop the planet warming up. Of course, any turbine is a collision risk.”

Mr Madge said of the planned turbine: “We are confident that it will generate significant amounts of renewable energy and want to proceed with the proposal.” Angela Kelly, chairman of anti-wind-farm group Country Guardian, said: “It does not surprise me to hear that the RSPB still intends to go ahead with its wind turbine.

“I gave up my RSPB membership in the early Nineties after it became clear that they were determined to support the wind industry in spite of well publicised proof that birds had been killed by wind turbines in Spain and the US.”

Campaign group Save The Eagles International said: “Eagles and millions of other birds are being decimated worldwide by wind farms and their power lines.”