Oxford University conservation biologist concerned by impact of wind farms on birds and bats

Says Clive Hambler, Lecturer in Biological and Human Sciences, Hertford College, University of Oxford, UK:
"I think wind farms are potentially the biggest disaster for birds of prey since the days of persecution by gamekeepers, and I think wind farms are one of the biggest threats to European and North American bats since large scale deforestation. The impacts are already becoming serious for white-tailed eagles in Europe, as is abundantly clear in Norway. A wind farm – built despite opposition from ornithologists – has decimated an important population, killing 40 white-tailed eagles in about 5 years and 11 of them in 2010. The last great bustard in the Spanish province of Cadiz was killed by a wind development. In my experience, some “greens” are in complete denial of these impacts, or hopefully imagine that these bats and birds can take big losses: they can’t because they breed very slowly.

"Birds of prey often soar where wind farms are best-sited, and may be attracted to their deaths by the vegetation and prey around the turbines. A similar deadly ecological trap has been proposed for bats, with some species attracted by insect prey or noise around the turbines.

"There are very serious suggestions of a cover-up of the scale of the problem, by some operatives hiding the corpses of birds, but you only have to look at the Save the Eagles website to see the evidence accumulating despite scavengers or deception.

"To my mind one of the worst problems is that wind farms will prevent the recovery of birds of prey, other threatened birds, and bats – denying them great swathes of the European and North American continent where they once dwelt. This flies in the face of the legally binding Convention on Biological Diversity, which encourages restoration of habitat and species whenever practicable. It makes a nonsense of the idea that wind is ‘sustainable’ energy – except in that it sustains and renews ecological damage."

http://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/bats-birds-and-blades-wind-turbines-and-biodiversity/>http://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/bats-birds-and-blades-wind-turbines-and-biodiversity/

Clive Hambler may be contacted here: +44 (0)1865 271124
or here: clive.hambler@zoo.ox.ac.uk