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Will birds be in danger when more windfarms are built?

It’s an important question on the Yorkshire coast, where over 500 wind turbines are situated offshore and a further 800 are under construction or planned. All are located on what is a major route for birds migrating to and from northern Europe as well as fishing grounds for seabirds like gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and puffins which nest on the chalk cliffs at Bempton and Flamborough.

With his characteristic rhetorical flourish, in 2013 Boris Johnson described wind farms as “moaning seagull slicers”. Last month, though, he pledged that within the next decade the number of offshore turbines will increase to such an extent that they will generate enough electricity to power every UK home.

That raised several questions from the commentariat, and not just what the prime minister has against seagulls. But if he is right, will a lot more seagulls and other birds really be imperilled by his conversion to the merits of green energy?

It’s an important question on the Yorkshire coast, where over 500 wind turbines are situated offshore and a further 800 are under construction or planned. All are located on what is a major route for birds migrating to and from northern Europe as well as fishing grounds for seabirds like gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and puffins which nest on the chalk cliffs at Bempton and Flamborough.

So how dangerous are wind farms for birds? A few years ago, a Spanish study involving daily inspections over three years at 250 turbines near Gibraltar found 596 dead birds, around a third of which were birds of prey.

However, other studies in the US... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

With his characteristic rhetorical flourish, in 2013 Boris Johnson described wind farms as “moaning seagull slicers”. Last month, though, he pledged that within the next decade the number of offshore turbines will increase to such an extent that they will generate enough electricity to power every UK home.

That raised several questions from the commentariat, and not just what the prime minister has against seagulls. But if he is right, will a lot more seagulls and other birds really be imperilled by his conversion to the merits of green energy?

It’s an important question on the Yorkshire coast, where over 500 wind turbines are situated offshore and a further 800 are under construction or planned. All are located on what is a major route for birds migrating to and from northern Europe as well as fishing grounds for seabirds like gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and puffins which nest on the chalk cliffs at Bempton and Flamborough.

So how dangerous are wind farms for birds? A few years ago, a Spanish study involving daily inspections over three years at 250 turbines near Gibraltar found 596 dead birds, around a third of which were birds of prey.

However, other studies in the US and Canada concluded that wind turbines are much less of an overall threat to bird life than domestic cats.

The president of the conservation group Save the Eagles International, Mark Duchamp, claims that the average turbine kills between 333 and 1,000 birds and alleges a massive conspiracy by wind power companies to hide the true mortality rate.

Interestingly, a study by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research came up with a new twist on the controversy. If turbine blades are painted black they reduce bird mortality by 70 per cent.

This was trialled at a wind farm on the island of Smøla, which found that large birds of prey like the white- tailed eagle - currently being reintroduced to the Isle of Wight 240 years after they became extinct as a breed species in England – benefitted from this the most.

If black blades save more birds, seagulls or otherwise, that’s great. But although turbines are getting bigger – the latest ones are nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower – a lot of bird migration is at a higher altitude.

Some years ago the pilot of a passenger aircraft was surprised to see a flock of whooper swans heading to the UK at a height of 8,000 feet.

In autumn a huge number of redwings make the 500- mile flight over the North Sea from Scandinavia, and hearing their “seep- seep” from the night sky as they pass over UK towns and cities is an absolute joy. Despite running the gauntlet of all those turbines, though, last year brought the biggest influx I can remember.

The RSPB scrutinises every wind farm application, and has so far objected to just six per cent of them.

But it calls for more monitoring, adding: “Policies and practices need to be adaptable as we learn more about the impacts of wind farms on birds.”


Source: https://www.pressreader.com...

NOV 25 2020
https://www.windaction.org/posts/51939-will-birds-be-in-danger-when-more-windfarms-are-built
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