With the recent well publicised death of a vagrant White-tailed Needletail in the Outer Hebrides I have been thinking again about wind farms and the inevitable conclusion that some birds are bound to collide with these massive and intrusive structures.
Massive wind farm near Tarifa, Southern Spain
The threat to birds first reared its head in the Sacramento valley in California and nearer to home in the area around Tarifa in Southern Spain. In both cases the turbines are placed in great density in the path of masses of larger migrating birds. Griffon Vultures were one of the species that were considered vulnerable to these structures.
There have been many similar concerns around the World including close to home especially with large scale developments out to sea. The most recent of these concerns Jordan a country I know very well. Many will have visited the wonderful Rift Valley and maybe stayed at Wadi Dana. This idyllic spot with its biblical village is surely one of the most beautiful places on earth but it now is threatened with a wind farm. This is a place where the last Griffon Vultures hang on in Jordan and where thousands of migrating birds pass through twice a year. Many argue that wind farms are very intrusive on some of the World's most wonderful landscapes and this would be true of Dana. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature Jordan's largest conservation NGO is reported to be receiving large sums of compensation to support this scheme. Surely they must do the research first to ensure no harm comes to the wildlife that frequent this fantastic place?
Wadi Dana, Jordan
Conservationists are understandably keen to encourage the development of sustainable energy projects especially to relieve the dependence on dwindling fossil fuels. Many of the arguments for and against wind farms are still vague and indistinct. Local nimbyism also clouds the issues. Many claim that energy generated by wind farms falls well short of claims by eager developers. Surely it is time the public knew the truth so that clear judgement can be made? Back to Jordan the Dana situation is just the beginning. How long before wind farms blot the extraordinary landscape of World Heritage sites such as Petra?
The Monastery at Petra
In the wake of the White-throated Needletail incident the RSPB has acknowledged that they are concerned about the number of birds killed by wind turbines in Norway and Spain but are quick to point out that larger numbers of birds are killed in the UK each year by flying into windows. On a flippant note I do not look forward to a Griffon Vulture hitting my window. RSPB further point out that the domestic cat is a much bigger threat to birds in the UK. All of that may be true but surely we must ensure that cleaner energy does not come at an unacceptable cost to our heritage be it birds or landscape.