Articles filed under Impact on Wildlife from Europe
Offshore wind farms cost significantly more to build and maintain than their onshore equivalent. And because they involve new and untested technology they also suffer from "first of a kind" costs. But the industry is confident that those costs will fall over time. It is difficult to compare the cost of electricity obtained from a wind farm rather than a conventional energy source like gas. This is because it involves assumptions about future construction costs, the cost of carbon emissions, and the cost of gas. However, right now offshore wind farms are significantly more expensive than thermal generation and require a government subsidy to make them economic.
Business Secretary John Hutton says he wants to open up British seas to allow enough new turbines - up to 7,000 - to power all UK homes by the year 2020. He acknowledged "it is going to change our coastline", but said the issue of climate change was "not going away". The thrust of the idea was backed by Tory Alan Duncan: "We're an island nation. There's a lot of wind around." ...The other choice was, he said, whether it was "easier to have these developments offshore rather than onshore". Asked what would happen if there was no wind for a few days, Mr Hutton said that was why there had to be a mix of energy sources - including nuclear power - to cover for calmer weather periods.
The pylons would form part of the upgrading of the power link between north and south Scotland. Extra electricity from new wind farms being built in the Highlands must be transmitted to power users in cities in the south. Scottish and Southern Energy says the £320m upgrade - on the line between Beauly, near Inverness, and Denny, near Stirling - would consist of 600 pylons, 40 to 64 metres high, with a section going through Cairngorms National Park. The idea has horrified landowners, wildlife groups and walkers: 18,000 people have formally objected to the Beauly-Denny plan. ...should Britain's commitment to renewable energy take precedence over its need to preserve its wild places?
Planners have recommended councillors do not oppose a proposed wind farm which has sparked concerns for wild geese and archaeological sites. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has objected to the 21-turbine scheme at Shebster, near Thurso. Historic Scotland said it would have an "unacceptable adverse impact" on ancient sites including cairns. The Scottish Government is consulting local Highland councillors, who will hold a hearing on Tuesday.
Shetland holds almost half of Britain's breeding red-throated divers. A survey of breeding red-throated divers in Shetland, carried out in 1994, found only 389 breeding pairs, a 40 per cent decline since the previous full survey in 1983. Shetland holds approximately1.5 per cent of the British breeding population of merlins, approximately 20 pairs. Consultation is on going to reduce the impact of the development especially on the breeding red-throated divers, which are considered to be particularly liable to collision with wind turbines. ...In the words of the RSPB: "The RSPB views climate change as the most serious threat to birds and their habitats, and sees renewable energy as one way to alleviate this threat. However, it would be entirely self defeating to advocate building wind farms right in the middle of our most important wildlife areas." ...Anybody that thinks developments like this are acceptable obviously don't care less about the wildlife and natural environment around them.
Environment minister Mike Russell has denied that Scottish Natural Heritage caved in to political pressure to withdraw its objection to a wind farm in west Caithness. The rebuttal came as a prominent local ornithologist claimed that an internationally important flock of geese would be endangered if the 21-turbine development on farmland near Westfield got the go-ahead. The controversial application lodged by Baillie Wind Farm Limited is the subject of a special Highland Council planning hearing in Halkirk on Tuesday. Mr Russell was challenged about the surprise removal of SNH's long-standing objection. ..."SNH have a stack of reports done by Stan of the area covered by the wind farm but none of that material appears to have been used to base their decision to withdraw its objection," Mr Craig said. "This is independent data verified over the years by an expert and they have chosen to ignore it - I think that is appalling."
Remember that the threat to birds is a very small (but highly significant) part of the whole Shetland windfarm issue. If we include the negative effects on tourism, house prices, visibility, noise, quality of life, peat disturbance, run-off, environmental quality, Shetland's wilderness - as well as debatable CO2 savings, the need for 90 per cent fossil fuel back up due to intermittence and the doubling of the price of electricity (Denmark experience) it is hard to understand how the project has got past first base. Last week at PM questions, an English MP succinctly summed up the situation with windfarms. He said 'windfarms are being opposed by local people but being imposed on them by the authorities'. This is exactly what is happening in Shetland. It has to be stopped.
Objectors have pledged to "vigorously oppose" the planned £75 million 20turbine Davidstow community wind farm plan - despite major changes to the scheme aimed at appeasing protestors.Community Windpower Ltd says it has now redesigned the wind farm proposals planned for Davidstow Woods as a result of earlier consultation with the community. ..."Our initial reaction is that these revisions would reduce neither the proliferation of wind turbines in North Cornwall, nor the adverse effect which these huge machines would have on the local landscape and wildlife."
Councillors have agreed to allow a Caithness renewable energy company to continue gathering wind data – but insisted on a special condition to protect birdlife. ...The condition aimed at safeguarding birdlife was suggested by Councillor David Bremner, Landward Caithness, who found support when he suggested that inspection of the bird deflectors on the mast should take place on a weekly basis as opposed to the three-month period suggested by the planning service. Mr Bremner said: "I am no expert but there is quite a lot of activity in that area, particularly when the whooper swans are migrating. I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask for a more rigorous condition."
The government's conservation watchdog has been accused of putting wildlife and wild places at risk by preparing to relax its defences against development. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is under fire from environmental groups and insiders for allowing plans for a coal mine and wind farms to go ahead, despite the damage they could do to rare birds and peat bogs. Critics warn that a review of corporate strategy being led by SNH chairman Andrew Thin could result in more damaging developments being given the go-ahead. Fears have been fuelled by a recent interview in which Thin said he was neither a conservationist nor an environmentalist.
THE COMPANY behind plans to build a massive windfarm in Shetland intends to wait until next summer before submitting a planning application to allow a second study of the islands' peatlands. Viking Energy had initially hoped to have already submitted its planning documents, but the huge number of responses to a public consultation scuppered the company's timetable. ...During the initial consultation in spring this year, many local residents were concerned about the amount of peat which would have to be cleared to erect up to 192 turbines, each measuring up to 145 metres in height. There were also worries that disturbing the sensitive peat habitat could pollute burns and inshore waters.
A study involving whooper swans wintering on a Dumfriesshire reserve could have a major impact on new wind farm developments across Scotland. A total of seven birds have been tracked by satellite from Iceland for the BBC's Autumnwatch programme. ...WWT Learning Manager Brian Morrell said the study of migration patterns could help answer a lot of questions. "With a lot of applications for wind farms - up in the Western Isles there's a huge one planned for Lewis - they want to know what route these birds are taking," he said. "Are they going across the area that is going to be earmarked for these wind farm developments?
The Norwegian fish industry fiercely fights goverment plans to build windmill parks at sea. The windmills will hinder fishing and shipping, a fish industry association argues. In its annual conference this weekend, the Norwegian Fishery Association unanimously supported a proposal to fight the development of windmill parks at sea.
Some 51 per cent of African-Eurasian migratory raptor species have an "unfavourable" conservation status. John O'Sullivan, of Birdlife International, a global alliance of conservation organisations, said: "We have recently heard about the sad case of the golden eagle being poisoned in Scotland, but birds of prey face additional problems trying to settle in networks of suitable habitats along their migration paths. We know little about the status of raptors in Africa, and in Asia species are poorly understood." The main threats to the birds, Mr O'Sullivan said, were habitat loss, illegal hunting, power lines, and wind farm initiatives.
Birds of prey have been hard-hit by a variety of human induced threats including loss of habitat, persecution, illegal shooting and poisoning. Collisions with TV masts and wind turbines and electrocution on power lines have also added to population declines. Birds of prey are not prolific breeders which makes it hard for them to recover from losses and scientists believe that climate change will only add to the problems. Their position at the top of their food chain means they are an excellent indicator of the health of the ecosystem but unless there is an effort across borders and continents to help them their future looks bleak.
The meeting heard Prof Peter Cobbold use the name, Clwyd power station, to describe to more than 200 local residents what is in store for their countryside between now and 2010. He also talked about the changes in local scenery, which he believes will come about if the asssembly plans to generate electricity from wind turbines continues. ..."The significant thing is that not one word was voiced to support wind energy. "If they are so great, why did no one turn up to say so? Nobody wants them; everybody knows they won't close down a single 'dirty' power station; and yet they are foisted on us by an uncaring Government that refuses to listen to us."
FURTHER objections have been made to plans to build four giant wind turbines near Hemsby. The Broads Authority planning committee has joined Hemsby villagers and Ormesby St Margaret parish councillors in voicing its opposition to SLP Energy's scheme for the 125m high turbines. The objections came at its committee meeting last Friday amid concerns about the detrimental impact on the countryside, outweighing the Authority's need to promote green energy. ...the development would also affect the ecology of the area, with large bird and bat populations at the wind farm site in an area known as the Trinity Broads which is bordered by Hall Farm Fen to the north, an area of fen grazing stretching to Hemsby.
"The red squirrel is a protected species and much loved part of our natural heritage. ..."The development of wind farms in the Clocaenog Forest area is particularly worrying given that there is little information as to how such developments, which include tree felling, will affect red squirrel populations.
The international organisation monitoring the global position of cetaceans produced its first national report last month on the state of these creatures around the UK, highlighting the many problems they face. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), brings together for the first time all current threats facing UK cetaceans, and calls on the government to commit to improving the protection of whales and dolphins and highlights threats and possible remedies. ...one of the greatest concerns - and unknowns - is that of noise pollution. Not only generated from shipping, it results from construction activity in oil and gas fields and a newly expanding activity: offshore wind farms. ..."When in operation, windfarms produce a considerable amount of low frequency noise", the report says.
Mr Struan Stevenson, Scottish Tory MEP, believes that the renewable schemes would be in contravention of three European Directives and they should be put on hold for further consideration by Brussels. He has branded the plans "disgraceful" and claimed they amount to the rape of one of Scotland's most beautiful wildernesses. Just before the summer recess of the parliament, Mr Stevenson handed over on behalf of the campaign group Save Our Dava a large dossier on the projects to the EC. "By giving it personally to Environment Commissioner Stavos Dimas I am hoping that this will fast-track the intervention of the EC," said the MEP. "It shows how we believe there are prima facie breaches of at least three major European Directives involved with this cumulative project - the Birds Directive; the Planket Peat Bog Directive and the Habitat Directive.