RSPB shows birds and turbines can co-exist

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Richard Heap
March 7, 2016
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RSPB shows birds and turbines can co-exist

UK energy company Ecotricity last week completed installation of a 100-metre turbine at the Bedfordshire headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It is an unremarkable project in all but one vital aspect: the RSPB is a top wildlife charity that has been a vocal critic of several large wind projects. It is currently awaiting the result of a judicial reviewabout four projects off Scotland totalling 2.3GW, for example.

The charity has spent three years working with Ecotricity to confirm that the location of the turbine would not harm nesting or migratory birds. Even so, many of wind's critics are accusing the RSPB of major hypocrisy for apparently compromising its lofty ideals.

But we are not among them. If anything, we hope this can lead to a more sensible debate about the risks of wind farms to birds. We are probably being too optimistic. However, the fact the RSPB has done this project shows well-placed turbines and birds can coexist.

We will also not deny that some wind farms have been built in places that have done harm to bird populations. That is regrettable. But it is also a fallacy spread by the anti-wind lobby that wind farm developers do not care about birds and will happily watch them die. Wind developers are not psychopaths and, even if they were, they would not want the PR damage or fines from breaking the rules.

There is also the key fact that most wind farms are not the biggest
threat to birds. The US Fish & Wildlife Service published a report four years ago that is as relevant today. This said wind turbines killed around 100,000 to 440,000 birds in the US annually.

It is a big number, and one that can only have got bigger given the growth of US wind in the last four years.

Even so, the risk to birds from turbines is nowhere as big as the risks from cats, cars or buildings — or, while we’re on it, from agricultural pesticides, power lines or communications towers. But only cats and pesticides face similar levels of criticism as wind.

There is also another big risk to birds that was not even considered in that report: climate change. Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, said climate change is the biggest threat to the world, including birds, and wind farms can help with fighting that battle.

Yes, the RSPB wants to protect birds, but Harper realises that it will not do that with a point blank refusal to accept any wind farms. Helping to address climate change is as important to the long-term health of bird populations as it is to other wildlife, including us.

“Turbines must be located where they are sympathetic to our natural environment,” says Harper, and he would ind it difficult to find anyone in the industry who disagrees. There are lots of reasons people come into the wind sector, and killing birds is not one of them. If anything, wind investors want to know more about the risks to birds of developing a given site at an early stage in the project planning process. This would be crucial information in deciding whether to buy a site in the first place.

This RSPB scheme shows that building wind turbines and protecting birds do not need to be mutually exclusive. Smart investors will not want to do the first without the second.

UK energy company Ecotricity last week completed installation of a 100-metre turbine at the Bedfordshire headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It is an unremarkable project in all but one vital aspect: the RSPB is a top wildlife charity that has been a vocal critic of several large wind projects. It is currently awaiting the result of a judicial reviewabout four projects off Scotland totalling 2.3GW, for example.

The charity has spent three years working with Ecotricity to confirm that the location of the turbine would not harm nesting or migratory birds. Even so, many of wind's critics are accusing the RSPB of major hypocrisy for apparently compromising its lofty ideals.

But we are not among them. If anything, we hope this can lead to a more sensible debate about the risks of wind farms to birds. We are probably being too optimistic. However, the fact the RSPB has done this project shows well-placed turbines and birds can coexist.

We will also not deny that some wind farms have been built in places that have done harm to bird populations. That is regrettable. But it is also a fallacy spread by the anti-wind lobby that wind farm developers do not care about birds and will happily watch them die. Wind developers are not psychopaths and, even if they were, they would not want the PR damage or fines from breaking the rules.

There is also the key fact that most wind farms are not the biggest
threat to birds. The US Fish & Wildlife Service published a report four years ago that is as relevant today. This said wind turbines killed around 100,000 to 440,000 birds in the US annually.

It is a big number, and one that can only have got bigger given the growth of US wind in the last four years.

Even so, the risk to birds from turbines is nowhere as big as the risks from cats, cars or buildings — or, while we’re on it, from agricultural pesticides, power lines or communications towers. But only cats and pesticides face similar levels of criticism as wind.

There is also another big risk to birds that was not even considered in that report: climate change. Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, said climate change is the biggest threat to the world, including birds, and wind farms can help with fighting that battle.

Yes, the RSPB wants to protect birds, but Harper realises that it will not do that with a point blank refusal to accept any wind farms. Helping to address climate change is as important to the long-term health of bird populations as it is to other wildlife, including us.

“Turbines must be located where they are sympathetic to our natural environment,” says Harper, and he would ind it difficult to find anyone in the industry who disagrees. There are lots of reasons people come into the wind sector, and killing birds is not one of them. If anything, wind investors want to know more about the risks to birds of developing a given site at an early stage in the project planning process. This would be crucial information in deciding whether to buy a site in the first place.

This RSPB scheme shows that building wind turbines and protecting birds do not need to be mutually exclusive. Smart investors will not want to do the first without the second.

UK energy company Ecotricity last week completed installation of a 100-metre turbine at the Bedfordshire headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It is an unremarkable project in all but one vital aspect: the RSPB is a top wildlife charity that has been a vocal critic of several large wind projects. It is currently awaiting the result of a judicial reviewabout four projects off Scotland totalling 2.3GW, for example.

The charity has spent three years working with Ecotricity to confirm that the location of the turbine would not harm nesting or migratory birds. Even so, many of wind's critics are accusing the RSPB of major hypocrisy for apparently compromising its lofty ideals.

But we are not among them. If anything, we hope this can lead to a more sensible debate about the risks of wind farms to birds. We are probably being too optimistic. However, the fact the RSPB has done this project shows well-placed turbines and birds can coexist.

We will also not deny that some wind farms have been built in places that have done harm to bird populations. That is regrettable. But it is also a fallacy spread by the anti-wind lobby that wind farm developers do not care about birds and will happily watch them die. Wind developers are not psychopaths and, even if they were, they would not want the PR damage or fines from breaking the rules.

There is also the key fact that most wind farms are not the biggest
threat to birds. The US Fish & Wildlife Service published a report four years ago that is as relevant today. This said wind turbines killed around 100,000 to 440,000 birds in the US annually.

It is a big number, and one that can only have got bigger given the growth of US wind in the last four years.

Even so, the risk to birds from turbines is nowhere as big as the risks from cats, cars or buildings — or, while we’re on it, from agricultural pesticides, power lines or communications towers. But only cats and pesticides face similar levels of criticism as wind.

There is also another big risk to birds that was not even considered in that report: climate change. Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, said climate change is the biggest threat to the world, including birds, and wind farms can help with fighting that battle.

Yes, the RSPB wants to protect birds, but Harper realises that it will not do that with a point blank refusal to accept any wind farms. Helping to address climate change is as important to the long-term health of bird populations as it is to other wildlife, including us.

“Turbines must be located where they are sympathetic to our natural environment,” says Harper, and he would ind it difficult to find anyone in the industry who disagrees. There are lots of reasons people come into the wind sector, and killing birds is not one of them. If anything, wind investors want to know more about the risks to birds of developing a given site at an early stage in the project planning process. This would be crucial information in deciding whether to buy a site in the first place.

This RSPB scheme shows that building wind turbines and protecting birds do not need to be mutually exclusive. Smart investors will not want to do the first without the second.

UK energy company Ecotricity last week completed installation of a 100-metre turbine at the Bedfordshire headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It is an unremarkable project in all but one vital aspect: the RSPB is a top wildlife charity that has been a vocal critic of several large wind projects. It is currently awaiting the result of a judicial reviewabout four projects off Scotland totalling 2.3GW, for example.

The charity has spent three years working with Ecotricity to confirm that the location of the turbine would not harm nesting or migratory birds. Even so, many of wind's critics are accusing the RSPB of major hypocrisy for apparently compromising its lofty ideals.

But we are not among them. If anything, we hope this can lead to a more sensible debate about the risks of wind farms to birds. We are probably being too optimistic. However, the fact the RSPB has done this project shows well-placed turbines and birds can coexist.

We will also not deny that some wind farms have been built in places that have done harm to bird populations. That is regrettable. But it is also a fallacy spread by the anti-wind lobby that wind farm developers do not care about birds and will happily watch them die. Wind developers are not psychopaths and, even if they were, they would not want the PR damage or fines from breaking the rules.

There is also the key fact that most wind farms are not the biggest
threat to birds. The US Fish & Wildlife Service published a report four years ago that is as relevant today. This said wind turbines killed around 100,000 to 440,000 birds in the US annually.

It is a big number, and one that can only have got bigger given the growth of US wind in the last four years.

Even so, the risk to birds from turbines is nowhere as big as the risks from cats, cars or buildings — or, while we’re on it, from agricultural pesticides, power lines or communications towers. But only cats and pesticides face similar levels of criticism as wind.

There is also another big risk to birds that was not even considered in that report: climate change. Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, said climate change is the biggest threat to the world, including birds, and wind farms can help with fighting that battle.

Yes, the RSPB wants to protect birds, but Harper realises that it will not do that with a point blank refusal to accept any wind farms. Helping to address climate change is as important to the long-term health of bird populations as it is to other wildlife, including us.

“Turbines must be located where they are sympathetic to our natural environment,” says Harper, and he would ind it difficult to find anyone in the industry who disagrees. There are lots of reasons people come into the wind sector, and killing birds is not one of them. If anything, wind investors want to know more about the risks to birds of developing a given site at an early stage in the project planning process. This would be crucial information in deciding whether to buy a site in the first place.

This RSPB scheme shows that building wind turbines and protecting birds do not need to be mutually exclusive. Smart investors will not want to do the first without the second.

UK energy company Ecotricity last week completed installation of a 100-metre turbine at the Bedfordshire headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It is an unremarkable project in all but one vital aspect: the RSPB is a top wildlife charity that has been a vocal critic of several large wind projects. It is currently awaiting the result of a judicial reviewabout four projects off Scotland totalling 2.3GW, for example.

The charity has spent three years working with Ecotricity to confirm that the location of the turbine would not harm nesting or migratory birds. Even so, many of wind's critics are accusing the RSPB of major hypocrisy for apparently compromising its lofty ideals.

But we are not among them. If anything, we hope this can lead to a more sensible debate about the risks of wind farms to birds. We are probably being too optimistic. However, the fact the RSPB has done this project shows well-placed turbines and birds can coexist.

We will also not deny that some wind farms have been built in places that have done harm to bird populations. That is regrettable. But it is also a fallacy spread by the anti-wind lobby that wind farm developers do not care about birds and will happily watch them die. Wind developers are not psychopaths and, even if they were, they would not want the PR damage or fines from breaking the rules.

There is also the key fact that most wind farms are not the biggest
threat to birds. The US Fish & Wildlife Service published a report four years ago that is as relevant today. This said wind turbines killed around 100,000 to 440,000 birds in the US annually.

It is a big number, and one that can only have got bigger given the growth of US wind in the last four years.

Even so, the risk to birds from turbines is nowhere as big as the risks from cats, cars or buildings — or, while we’re on it, from agricultural pesticides, power lines or communications towers. But only cats and pesticides face similar levels of criticism as wind.

There is also another big risk to birds that was not even considered in that report: climate change. Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, said climate change is the biggest threat to the world, including birds, and wind farms can help with fighting that battle.

Yes, the RSPB wants to protect birds, but Harper realises that it will not do that with a point blank refusal to accept any wind farms. Helping to address climate change is as important to the long-term health of bird populations as it is to other wildlife, including us.

“Turbines must be located where they are sympathetic to our natural environment,” says Harper, and he would ind it difficult to find anyone in the industry who disagrees. There are lots of reasons people come into the wind sector, and killing birds is not one of them. If anything, wind investors want to know more about the risks to birds of developing a given site at an early stage in the project planning process. This would be crucial information in deciding whether to buy a site in the first place.

This RSPB scheme shows that building wind turbines and protecting birds do not need to be mutually exclusive. Smart investors will not want to do the first without the second.

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Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.