Scotland: one kill they couldn’t hide

Another osprey killed by a wind turbine in Scotland

By Mark Duchamp—— Bio and Archives--June 2, 2016

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An osprey was hit by a wind turbine blade in Scotland, and had to be euthanised. Normally, these accidents are not reported—see Windfarms: bird mortality cover-up in the UK

What’s particularly interesting in this case is that we can read, in the media reporting the news, all the lame excuses being put-up by the wind company to hide the fact that this was perfectly previsible.

For instance: “The scheme’s operator Eneco is working with RSPB Scotland and a conservation expert to try to establish if there are site-specific factors that attracted the bird.” In other words: we goofed when we planned that wind farm; there was something particular about the site, and we didn’t see it. We´ll do better next time—end of story.

But in reality, they knew. It’s not this site that’s a problem: it’s the wind turbines. The World Council for Nature (WCFN) published an article 3 years ago, providing evidence that raptors, bats and swallows are attracted to wind turbines. See: Biodiversity Alert

Save the Eagles International showed pictures of raptors perched on wind turbines. There is even one of an osprey’s nest built on top of a decommissioned nacelle (above). Videos too: bats flying around turbine blades, and being struck. Another of a turkey vulture perched on a wind turbine while the blades are spinning. In short: plenty of evidence that some bird species, and bats, are attracted to wind turbines, which explains why millions are killed yearly. But bird societies refuse to admit it. Their conflict of interest is stronger than evidence.

“She (the company spokeswoman) claimed ospreys were “known to have a 98% avoidance rate,” The “avoidance rate” is a variable used by consultants in modelling, one which is easy to manipulate in order to get a wind project approved no matter how poorly sited it is in relation to protected birds. As raptors are in fact attracted to wind turbines once these are built, the avoidance rate is a misleading tool. But the RSPB and other bird societies keep using it, pretending this is “best available science”.

”...the site had “not been identified as an area for ospreys according to years of prior survey and consideration.” Small wonder: it’s once the wind turbines are built that they attract raptors to their deaths.

“Obtaining conclusive windfarm birdstrike data is notorously difficult.” Not true. I have been collecting such data for 14 years, but most bird societies don’t want to hear about it. They won’t even publicize a study made by their Spanish counterpart, SEO/Birdlife, because it estimated that Spain’s 18,000 wind turbines are killing 6-18 million birds and bats yearly. The truth is, there are millions of pounds to be made working with wind farm developers, and not a penny’s worh in denouncing their abuses—on the contrary.

In the US, wind turbines are killing eagles in such numbers that the government is issuing “take permits” (licenses to kill) so that wind companies are not prosecuted. Ospreys too are being slaughtered: Osprey mortality at wind farms.

Finally, closing the article: “SSE said it had worked closely with RSPB Scotland to minimise any risk to the species locally.”—Now we see the results of RSPB’s guidance…

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Guest Column Mark Duchamp -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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