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UK's bird society goes over the top!

We're saving them from climate change. - RSPB to have its own turbine.

Many thanks to for this cartoon which is a perfect response to the following article:

Wind turbine would help RSPB fight climate change | Biggleswade Today | Sept. 9, 2013

Comments by Mark Duchamp, in his capacity as President of Save the Eagles International

In the article, we find a typical example of the spin being used by the RSPB to defend their plan to erect a bird-chopping wind turbine inside one of their bird reserves.

They say: Bats fly when there’s a relatively low wind speed and the turbine won’t be running at those times”.

If that's true, how come millions of bats get killed worldwide? See: Spanish wind farms kill 6 to 18 million birds & bats a year
And if they will voluntarily curtail the production of electricity to save the bats, how about saving the birds as well by keeping the turbine turned off at all times? I am not being facecious, only logical.

They also argue: Often birds that are struck by wind turbines are big, slow flying birds. We’ve been doing very thorough bird surveys to see the movement of birds that come across this site and we have small songbirds that won’t come into contact with it.

- REALLY!? Song birds constitute the majority of casualties from wind turbines, anywhere.
You need convincing? Take any monitoring study that encompasses small birds as well as large ones, and you will see. Even the Altamont Pass windfarm in California, which kills a lot of raptors, kills even more songbirds - roughly ten times as many, according to official reports.

Or take a look here, for instance:
--> go to end of page and download the statistics from the red link "Vögel in Germany".
This official site from the State of Brandenburg (Berlin) collects information on bird/bat mortality at windfarms coming from all over Germany. But most of it consists in casual finds by the public, which may report large birds but would rarely bother for small birds. Yet many are shown on the Excel page, e.g. 47 kills of regulus regulus (Goldcrest), 27 kills of emberiza calandra (Corn bunting), etc.
So, why is the RSPB asserting that songbirds won't come close to its bird slicer?
Foremost when we learn from the article that "If approved by Central Beds councillors it [the turbine] will be situated in an area of acid grassland, which is attracting small songbirds and insects."

There is very little organised monitoring in Germany. However, their Excel record is better than nothing. It shows for instance that 78 white-tailed sea eagles have been wacked to death by wind turbines in their country, plus 2 lesser spotted eagles and 9 ospreys (information you won't find on the RSPB website - why?). In contrast with Germany, Spain or the US, total opacity reigns in France and the UK, where neither monitoring nor recording of mortality at windfarms is being carried out so as not to alert the bird-loving public (i.e., a cover up policy is in place).

For real data on bird/bat mortality, here is the best site available today:

This shocking extrapolation is also worthy of consideration: Bird mortality: spilling the glass

How can we believe, after seing actual mortality data, the RSPB when they say: "we have small songbirds that won’t come into contact with it [the turbine]". This implies that the RSPB has been able to teach songbirds not to fly into wind turbines, something these birds do everywhere else in great numbers. So my question to the RSPB is: why not share this most useful discovery with the rest of the world? I am being ironic, but such an unashamed level of spin does invite irony.

As for large birds, they say: "Often birds that are struck by wind turbines are big, slow flying birds. We’ve been doing very thorough bird surveys to see the movement of birds that come across this site".
But in fact it has been proven that a class of large birds, namely raptors, are in fact attracted to and killed by wind turbines - Biodiversity alert

Thus, it does not matter how thorough were the RSPB surveys "to see the movement of birds that come across this site".
Such "movements" will change once the turbine is in place: bats and hirundines will be attracted by it and killed - read the findings of Clive Hambler, who teaches biology at Oxford University: The tip of the iceberg

Raptors as well will be attracted and killed, as shown by pictures and comments here: Raptors are attracted to wind turbines

It is always a perilous exercise to try and guess people's intentions. But let's think for a moment: what could be an underlying goal for the RSPB that would be worthy of risking their reputation on this controversial wind turbine? Global Warming? Or could it be that they were prompted to do it by financial and other links to the wind industry? Indeed, the RSPB setting up a wind turbine in their bird reserve would send a powerful signal to the world: if the RSPB is doing it, surely wind turbines are no danger to birds and bats. Curiously, the Audubon Society is doing the same thing in one of their bird reserves in Massachusetts. So these moves could well be announcing a worldwide offensive in spincraft, one designed to shore up a controversial industry whose subsidies and collateral damage have become unsustainable.

I have suggested here-above that the wind industry, or wind interests if you will, may be contributing financially to the RSPB - directly or indirectly, as is probably the case with other bird societies as well. I have some evidence of this occurring in the past, but am not able to prove it is happening today, as the RSPB do not publish their complete financial statements, nor the detailed list of their donors and amounts received, investments made, shares and other financial instruments held, and contracts signed.

Should the RSPB wish to refute my suggestion, I invite them to publish this material, including that from any foundations and other organisations they control. Ideally, for complete transparency, disclosure should also be made of the personal wealth of RSPB executives and their immediate family members. Only then the public will be able to decide for themselves if the RSPB is helping the birds first and foremost, or if it is helping the wind industry first. Given the huge investments at stake for the UK as a whole, and the no less huge environmental impacts of wind turbines, I suggest that the publication of the RSPB's fully-detailed financial accounts has become a necessity. These would be part of the information that the public needs in order to properly assess the UK's NREAP* under the provisions of the Aarhus Convention.

* NREAP: National Renewable Energy Action Plan

I stand to be corrected if these accounts do not evidence financial links between the RSPB and wind interests, directly or indirectly. But I am in my right as a EU citizen protected by the Aarhus Convention to demand that such statements be published, in the interest of transparency in environmental matters. The RSPB's surprisingly forceful advocacy in favour of wind turbines makes them a key player in UK and EU energy policies, but at the same time it raises legitimate questions. Thus, they must come clean on any financial interests that may influence said advocacy, Aarhus Convention oblige.

Signed: Mark Duchamp
President, Save the Eagles International

EPAW does not endorse comments that are not signed in its own name. If it publishes some, as in this case, it is because it believes a public debate is warranted on the matter at hand. To be fair, EPAW will publish the reply from the RSPB, if any.


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