Wind turbines: a disaster for birds

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I’m receiving a lot of letters regarding the shooting of songbirds in Malta for sport.  While I’m not opposed in principle to the shooting of birds for sport or for the pot, the annual carnage in Malta seems disproportionate and a possible threat to the species involved.  I have accordingly raised the matter several times with the Commission, without any satisfactory answer.  This is a good illustration of the ineffectiveness of European Institutions in delivering solutions to problems that concern citizens.

I may say, however, that I consider the proliferation of wind turbines to be an even greater threat to birds and bats.  I was struck by to an article which appeared recently in The Spectator, by an academic researcher, arguing that the average turbine kills between 110 and 330 birds a year, and between 200 and 670 bats.  The carnage in Spain alone (where the research was conducted) is estimated at between six million and eighteen million birds and bats a year.

Because of the height of turbines, it is likely that they disproportionately affect rare birds, migratory birds and raptors — those we can least afford to lose.

In this context I am very concerned about the policies of the RSPB.  Of course they stress the importance of environmental assessments when siting turbines, but they are clearly in favour of wind power, and indeed have reportedly applied to erect their own wind turbines.  They also oppose shale gas (which could reduce the demand for turbines).  Yet while wind farms are killing literally millions of birds, I am not aware of any bird that has died because of shale gas.  This suggests a strange sense of priorities at our largest bird charity.

The RSPB is also making hundreds of thousands of pounds a year from deals with power companies promoting “green energy” and wind turbines.

I respect the concern of constituents regarding the shooting of songbirds in Malta, and I shall continue to raise the issue whenever it is appropriate to do so.  But we should also to bear in mind the arguably greater threat to birds from wind power and “green” energy.

For more on these issues, visit www.savetheeaglesinternational.org/  ‎

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60 Responses to Wind turbines: a disaster for birds

  1. Important to note, Roger, that the survey you quote The Spectator quoting comes from an organisation – SEO Birdlife – which doesn’t oppose windfarms, but just wants them to be properly regulated and for their planning to take account of migratory patterns and nearby habitats.

    By the way: never heard of a bird dying because of fracking? 200 grackels in Burleson, Texas for a start…

  2. Thomas Fox says:

    Well what next ! RSPB getting income from their own bird killing Wind Turbines ,yet shale drillers kill none . To waver their nature protection policy in favour of destructive machines is two faced in extreme ?

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Your Off Topic Mr Helmer …congrats and good luck. Need one in the W. Mids also.
    Its a wonder Mr Packham did not get shot. I thought that was interfering in another countries business.
    RSPB and the rest of them…..big noses in wrong businesses…oh, they are big businesses. Forgot that.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Try You are or you’re.

      Anyway, the oceans/seas topic is arising (ooo-er) fast on WUWT (Monkton) and GWPF. Add a bit of underwater volcanics (WUWT). A massive subject that has not been analysed adequately at all. And to think this place is called the “water planet”. Well, I never.

  4. Thomas Fox says:

    Roger is on topic as regards energy and climate science he is about to be on topic in Newark as well ! We members are following your progression .

  5. Graham says:

    Yet another good point about the negative effect of wind turbines – are there any positives?!
    I would like to wish you success in Newark, Roger. Apart from your views on killing animals, inc birds, for sport (i.e. pleasure) which I find incomprehensible, I have enjoyed reading and occasionally responding to your blogs over the last year or two. May they continue, whatever the outcome in Newark.

  6. auralay says:

    The number of birds kill by Maltese hunters must be minuscule compared the those killed by British cats – estimated about 55 Million! Yet the RSPB seems quite complacent about this, saying they probably would have died anyway.
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/gardening/unwantedvisitors/cats/birddeclines.aspx

    It is time this country had a charity which will try to protect our birds!

  7. neilfutureboy says:

    Lack of interest in both the windmill and Maltese killings is a demonstration of how the “environmental” movement has been taken over as a vehicle for Luddites with no interest in the actual environment.

    On the other hand, to play devil’s advocate, our bird protection rules run heavily towards the rare & large birds – which mean s predators. As anybody who understands ecology (ie not most “ecologically concerned” people) knows if you increase the number of predators you are going to reduce the number of non-predatory birds (ie songbirds) and indeed there are clearly far fewer than when I were a lad.

  8. Jane Davies says:

    Here on Vancouver Island the march of wind turbines is slow but they are here. The bald eagle (as in the picture above) is a protected species so it will be interesting to see if the bird lobby here start protesting about the danger these monsters pose to these huge birds. The downside of having these birds protected is that their numbers are exploding and where I live we have an abundance of these predators and they are a real nuisance as they are taking cats and small dogs and even babies are in danger. Once again a man made dilemma and I have no idea what the solution will be. Maybe more wind turbines!?

  9. matthu says:

    Just watched the Labour party political broadcast (available here: http://order-order.com/2014/05/07/watch-labour-go-for-clegg/ ).

    That might just as well have been a UKIP broadcast for all the good it will do Labour …!

    Well done, Roger!

    The brouhaha (e.g. about whether young girls need to be partly responsible for their own safety or not) will soon enough give way to real issues* and I have no doubt your popularity will swell over the coming weeks and you will also benefit from the impact of UKIP at the Euro elections.

    * real issues such as:
    inability of UK to modulate immigration
    obscene cost of EU membership
    regulatory burden on everyone
    democratic deficit
    lack of EU accountability
    inability of UK to set up our own trade agreements with whomever we choose
    impotency of UK judges
    lack of control over our own fishing waters
    sheer wastefulness of Common Agricultural Policy
    unashamed deviousness of EU politicians e.g. bringing in laws under health and safety when they fail to bring in the same laws by standard means
    greed of EU politicians

    • matthu says:

      * not to forget the artifically maintained high cost of energy, the number of jobs destryed in the name of green crap and the utter mendacity over the whole business of global warming/climate change/climate disruptiveness.

  10. dave/r says:

    you should look at the benefits of growing industrial hemp as far as i can make out you can grow this fast on unproductive land witch we have about 10 million acres to spare the oil can be refined into biodiesel at a return of 30 barrells an acre and every part of the plant can be used not wasted also improves the soil it grows whats not to like we should be investing in this in a big way it would also create lots of jobs

  11. Mike Stallard says:

    I just wish I had the courage to send this to my greenie ecological friends. I am afraid they would dismiss it because you are not a proper scientist! The barb about the EU not caring about Malta went right home.

    Good luck in Newark. Unfortunately I do not live there, so I can’t vote fort you!

  12. catalanbrian says:

    For God’s sake, get things into proportion. Yes, wind turbines do kill the occasional bird, but the numbers are insignificant, so to use this argument against them is either misguided or dishonest. I live very near to a number of wind turbines (12) and I have checked them regularly for bird kill over the past year and have found only 5 dead birds beneath them in that 12 month period. OK it is not a scientific survey, some other birds may have been killed and I did not find them or they had been eaten before I got there, but I think that it illustrates that this is not a major problem. I would add that there are plenty of raptors in the skies around here. For your information the biggest man introduced killers of birds are domestic cats, large glass buildings, power lines and traffic.

    • neilfutureboy says:

      On Brian’s specific “proportion” point
      – the BBC recently made a significant news item of the, possible, poisoning of 6 birds. By comparison they have never reported that windmills are acknowledged to kill 89,000 birds a year in the US.

      Obviously if Brian were honest, rather than being a state troll, he would have spent 13,000 times longer denouncing the BBC than he does here.
      Or were he 0.000077 honest he would have spent equal time.

      • catalanbrian says:

        Poisoning is illegal and deliberate. Birds being killed by turbine blades, whilst being unfortunate is neither illegal nor deliberate. Your problem, neil ,is that you are so poisoned by your own bile that you lose sight of reality.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        So “legality” is the only definer of morality?
        Written like a true statist totalitarian.

        It is, of course, untrue to say that the probable effects of putting out poison is “deliberate” but the inevitable effects of spinning 100ft windmill blades through flying birds bodies is “accidental”. But then you have mathematically established your level of honesty.

      • catalanbrian says:

        Yes. You have lost touch with reality

  13. Maureen Gannon says:

    Have just read your newsletter Roger , first I had heard about you and Newark well if support from people who cannot vote for you is anything to go by you will do very well, best wishes.

    Back to your newsletter if I may. in discussion with friends I was surprised to find I was not alone in my thinking on the Ukraine , your cartoon depicts the bear with it’s claws in the country , I see the bald eagle talons getting there first, what else were the neo cons doing there ? as I see it the CIA is involved in getting the Ukraine into Europe thus getting it hands on the oil and gas rather than Russia plus it would enable them to eventually nuture the russian fleet berthed in Crimea , I am neither for or against the west or east but always try to look beyond what we are told by our media . Back to Newark the best of British Roger P&L

  14. Sonja Christiansen says:

    Have been told that ‘Gorbi’ was promised that NATO would not be extended to East if he did….. .and he did dissolve the USSR to the benefit of the ‘west’. Now Ukraine is invited, after Poland has already joined NATO. Who is the aggressor now?Just read in ‘Time Mag’ April 28, that Obama had to acknowledge CIA director Brennan’s visit to Kiev just before first 15 April. Hope UKIP does not jump on the UK/Brussels bandwagon and keep cool over understandable Russian nationalism. We need Russia and it needs us….though I could do with fewer oligarchs in London,and at Eaton etc.

  15. Thomas Fox says:

    If killing birds is not a problem they are ugly intermittent inefficient subsided machines which will not save the climate because no one can ! After 15 yrs down to 10 % efficiency with maintenance and decommissioning they will become very expensive pieces of scrap metal for us tax payers !

    • Jane Davies says:

      That’s it in a nutshell Thomas…….

    • catalanbrian says:

      Those figures are wrong. Yes, there is a slight reduction in efficiency over time but this amounts to something just over 1% per annum, an amount considerably smaller than the numbers you quote. And I guess that there is a similar reduction in efficiency of all turbines over time, whether powered by oil, coal, gas, hydro, or nuclear, so this really is not an argument against wind turbines. Just admit it. The reason you oppose wind turbines is that you just don’t like the look of them and you, along with most of the people on here are clutching at irrelevant straws to support your opposition to them. I can of course accept the fact that you don’t like them because you consider them to look ugly. That’s OK, but you spoil your argument by all this other guff.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        The chutzpah of Brain accusing somebody else of lying.

      • catalanbrian says:

        Just keep out of this you lunatic. Unlike you I have never lied on this blog. I have given my opinion. Unlike you I accept that other people have different viewpoints and are entitled to them, even though they may be wrong and I just point out when I consider this to be the case. Unlike you I do not accuse them of being nazis, liars, state trolls, etc. You really are a most disagreeable person and I am glad that I am not your neighbour, who must suffer terribly from your proximity.

      • ian wragg says:

        As they only average 19% efficiency anyway, 1% is quite significant. Another thing not widely publicised is gearbox failures and cracking of blades offshore. This is one reason some schemes are being abandoned.

      • catalanbrian says:

        What do you mean by “19% efficiency” and where does that figure come from? In any event “efficiency” of a wind turbine is less important as the fuel is free. What is more important is the availability (the proportion of time the turbine is able to generate) which is typically 95% for a new site. If the site is well managed and the turbine is a good quality machine the availability will stay around 90% for the lifetime of the project.

        And in any event my figure of 1% was the average annual falling off of efficiency, so starts at 100% . Thus if the “efficiency” is only your 19%, the reduction would be 0.19% (of the whole) per annum

  16. catalanbrian says:

    Oh, and by the way. All power is subsidised, not just that produced by renewables.

    • neilfutureboy says:

      That appears to be yet another of your lies. Or are you going to produce evidence.

      Perhaps you could point out some occasion when you have actually told the truth.
      Or when I have said something not provably the truth, you obscene lying, trolling eco-fascist whore.

      • catalanbrian says:

        Calling a truth a lie does not change it from being a truth. Likewise throwing abuse at people rarely achieves anything, other than to prove that the abuser has no argument

      • neilfutureboy says:

        indeed.
        And it is noted that you absolutely refuse to even attempt to produce evidence (now or previously(.

    • ian wragg says:

      The figure of 19% is from the National Grid. Ergo a wind turbine with a name plate rating of 1000kw (1MW) produces on average 190KW i.e.19%. When planning applications are submitted they typically say a 9MW (5 x 1.*MW) installation will power so many homes when in fact on average only 19% will be powered and only then intermittently.
      If you read the Met office statistics you will see that mean wind speed over the UK has reduced by 10% over the past 12 years, This is of course assuming you can read.

      • catalanbrian says:

        OK, I will have to accept your 19% figure, although I have to say that it seems a very low figure to me. However I hope that you get the point that I made regarding the reduction in output over time.

  17. catalanbrian says:

    And furthermore you should be aware that I have not accused anybody of lying. I just pointed out that his information is incorrect.

    • Jane Davies says:

      Can we please not fill up the page with another slanging match? I’m thinking you two will not agree on anything. We ‘get it’ OK?

  18. Ex-expat Colin says:

    May I present the Wurzels on the Mendip Windmill issue:

    Still prefer real ale…

    • Jane Davies says:

      Thanks for sharing Colin. Not so sure that putting them out to sea would make them work more effectively but I guess that’s down to the Wurzels artistic licence!

  19. Ex-expat Colin says:

    BTW:
    Has any manufacturer put these turbines through a wind tunnel for 25 yrs? That would be the wind tunnel type that emulates the different air movements at the various sites? Not really…I thought not. Probably done a bit of indicative stuff?

    So the justification for wind turbine deployment is based on statistical and reliability analysis largely – apart form the CO2 hit. Thats analysis rather than reality – modelling. Reliability would use something like FMECA on a parts count. However, as a system its not a good measure because there is no in-service data of longevity to inform it. Perhaps the indicative stuff drops in?

    Wind turbine disasters here: Altamont, east of San Francisco; Tehachapi, on the edge of the Mojave desert; and San Gorgonio near Palm Springs. Hawaii.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2116877/Is-future-Britains-wind-rush.html

    (daily mail — I know)

    Prime lesson learnt = big time subsidy !

    So the answer to the reliability issues…periodically rip them apart/refurb or replace them. I think the latter is the obvious case – and the frequency?. The problem with that is that we don’t know how much money has been promised to do that – do we?. If the DECC believed the 1%/pa (whatever) degradation (wear not capital) rate then they would have under estimated the repair bills – hello taxpayer. But we are not allowed to know that are we?

    But what do I know…I’ve only worked on EHV and Main plant (rotating) equipment for most of my long life. Oh…..and then there is the distribution feed-in and the UK Grid itself – fingers on the buzzers boys!

    • Ian Perry says:

      Colin,
      Were you one of the people who opposed the electric light? It was once an untested technology, and there were explosions at the early plants. I’m guessing you were, hence you need the gas from fracking for your gas lights…

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        No Ian…I’m an ex RAF Wireless Technician from way back. Thats when valves warmed the place!

  20. Thomas Fox says:

    Good to know that Colin has knowledge of these systems please explain to all the uneducated / un mechanical Greens all about /bearing wobble / gearbox / metal fatigue / over heating /plus a lot more that you know that a practical man like myself would not ??

    • ian wragg says:

      I too work in the power industry and there has been some catastrophic failures of plant especially offshore.
      The life span of offshore units is predicted by some experts to be about 15 years so this is why the people building them are demanding higher subsidies to recover their costs.
      In a few years time there will be lots of redundant plant both onshore and offshore and I bet the original contractors have vanished and the taxpayer will be left to clear up the mess.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Ian…I guess you are talking about rotating equipment under more or less constant load(s) – controlled. The turbines are up on long stalks and subjected to a varying source of drive (wind force/direction + changes). I cannot imagine a worse kind of fueling for this kind of machine. On the way to Glasgow (A74M) from time to time I see at least 6 of them stopped. Trouble is I cannot find out anything as regards whats happened to them.

        You’re likely right about the end of life costs I suspect. Its a contract I’d dearly like to see.

        Where I live in the W. Mids wind speed is inadequate (lucky me) for wind turbines, However, the sudden gusts and swift changes in direction (180’s) are something to behold fairly often. Am about 250ft Alt.

    • catalanbrian says:

      Once upon a time there were problems with the quality of build of wind generators, especially in the USA. I think you will find that many of these reliability issues have now been overcome and wind generators are now pretty reliable. I live within sight of 12 wind generators which have now been operational for some 18 months. As yet none of them has ceased turning, and presumably generating, other than when the wind has suddenly changed direction and they then take a while to turn themselves back into the wind. That, I would say, indicates that they are pretty reliable.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        I cannot find much on them as regards performance/reliability. Performance via NETA UK is about 4% – 13% to baseload (daily/weekly/monthly – variable). Thats a wide delta and tends to lie at the lower end normally. Cannot tell from NETA where contribution arises at any time either – whats being feathered/failing. Then add in the Grid impact.

        Driving to Glasgow (A74M) on occasions reveals at least 6 of them stopped and others turning…no idea why and no chance of discovering either? Similar around Northampton.

        I know little about Spain’s installations and where the performance stats reside. I do hear the odd piece or two about power outs though. No idea what thats about?

        There are indeed places where these turbines can prove useful. However, the colossal subsidy and lack of information (documentation/performance) about them (UK) is quite wrong to me. Anybody would think its all serious IPR, which a Nuke generator no doubt would be.

        .

  21. DICK R says:

    I don’t give stuff about birds but I am concerned about these idiotic Green lunatics turning the lights out ,that is the issue.

  22. Thomas Fox says:

    long before 15yrs of turbine life they will decrease in efficiency as in Cailfornia where the new heavily subsidised mirror heat reflective generators are only capable in rate per dwelling of boiling one daily kettle or lights presumebly to save the climate that is unchangeable ?

    • DICK R says:

      More barking mad ecolunacy there is plenty of oil ,gas, and coal ,all these ridiculous schemes always come to nothing.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      Thomas…this is where electronics/software steps in – monitoring. I could rattle on about Reliability but most people would be anaesthetised in seconds. Two other subjects are Maintainability arising from Reliability analysis and Testability. Testability is both manual and very much automated, Built in Test (BIT) or monitoring being one.Together we have RM&T. I’ll not go into software RM&T because that’s a large subject and greatly statistical. Software in real time applications is not easy as you may know?.

      Usually large plant/rotating is conveniently sited so can be physically checked daily – say. These turbines are,nothing to do with convenience and like some gas turbines (gas/oil pumps) are very remote indeed – desert/sea. So they are electronically monitored to a central base. There should be auto shut down functions installed of course. some might be too late!

      Aim of all this is to save them from demolishing themselves. Command switching is by radio link or is via data landline link, likely the former. An awful lot of expensive heavy equipment sited in very remote places in most cases and few of us have any idea what’s happening to them. They look as though they work because they’re turning…and?

  23. Ian Perry says:

    Mr Helmer,

    Are you going to close schools and universities that look closely at evidence and make scientific statements on wildlife, energy, climate change, etc that does not match with your humble, but obviously correct, opinion?

    What’s the point of young people getting an education, if this education leads them to make scientific discoveries that are clearly wrong?

    The scientific evidence does not support your viewpoint, and thus it must be wrong!

    I believe that all people need to listen to you and take notes of your wisdom, just as the people of North Korea eagerly listen and make notes of everything the almost as wise as yourself, Kim Jong-il says.

    Perhaps we should go back to gas lighting when we start fracking, rather than convert the energy into electricity? After all, there were many problems with the early coal power plants (and substations) – including, dangerous explosions.

  24. Steve James says:

    I hope you do not mind me mentioning that you probably have a lame argument here. The older turbines have been shredding birds and bats for a while but the newer turbines are much less likely to cause harm (Though not impossible) Far more birds fall victim to power lines and even more are victims of windows on houses. The press would be far more interested in why you backed the palm oil industry that destroys 30 square miles of irreplaceable rainforest eco system every day which might show you up as a hypocrite. It seems strange that a man who was voted by friends of the earth as one of the worst environmentalists on the planet should suddenly be so concerned for wildlife. Have you seen the light and become a born again eco warrior (except for sport!)?

  25. Ex-expat Colin says:

    I would like readers to see this on the BH website today: That blackout – a major power cut in the North of Scotland last month…….
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/5/12/that-blackout.html

    Stuff going wrong and dis – information delivered ?

  26. Ian Perry says:

    Why aren’t facts and evidence that don’t support UKIP’s opinions allowed on this blog?

    • Jane Davies says:

      They are Ian…you can look at past blogs. There is no censorship but rude personal comments, although not censored, are unnecessary and there has been a few of those in the past.

  27. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Professor Bengtsson suddenly resigned from GWPF today….see his scary letter here:

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/5/14/the-community-strikes-back.html?lastPage=true&postSubmitted=true

    This needs a hard look into…a very hard look at. This man appears to be being harassed for his scientific belief. I think he is frightened actually ! He joined GWPF about 3 weeks back…full of the joys of spring, so to speak.

    • catalanbrian says:

      Here is an alternative view on Prof Bengtsson’s situation that does not suggest a conspiracy.

      http://skepticalscience.com/behind-the-times-bengtsson-conspiracy-theory.html

      • neilfutureboy says:

        As normal Brian your claim is false. Your link does suggest a conspiracy – a conspiracy by the professor and the GWPF to engage in “political advocacy” something which, it is alleged, no alarmist “scientist” ever does. While your link, at one point, claims to believe the lynching is “alleged” on an adjoining line it says it is entirely reasonable behaviour.

        Simply another example of the amount of dishonesty and hypocrisy alarmists of all shades demonstrate in support of the Fascism this 79 year old professor has been subjected to.

        You state funded ecofascists must be so proud.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        What journalists have to say largely does not interest me, along with alarmists/handwringers of all shades.

        As somebody on the sideline I would like to know what happened, rather than read any 2nd/3rd/4th hand frilly account. And thats the biggest problem with this subject…getting to the truth/facts/evidence without a whole bunch of contractors/politicians getting in the way. That would be the PPE politicians mostly.

        Anyway, now there is another issue arising (data/rater/litigation) at the University of Queensland concerning a person trying to independently analyse John Cook’s 97% consensus paper, specifically the details of the data gathered/used/rater. No harm in that one might think where the science is supposed to be open. It seems not – sue him!

        Its the battle of AGW and GW. One of those takes money, and then what? The other needs it for adaption and nothing much at all. Seems we have to suffer the weather extremes under the EA until some dumb head in government….gets it?

        Slingo informs us this week from the Met Office:
        Just as we are very clear that climate models do not give us a definitive answer about the possible magnitude of future warming, neither do the estimates from observations as some in the climate sceptic community would claim.

        So really after all the time, money and strange theories pushed about by journalists and the like….nobody really knows whether its AGW or GW or both. oh dear, spot the difference.

        Scottish Wind Turbine failings: (v. interesting)
        MSP Alex Johnstone (Conservative, NE Scotland) this week tabled a question for answer in the Scottish parliament on causes of last month’s power black-out which cut off electricity to 200,000 homes in the Highlands and Islands.

        Not holding breath.

        Don’t forget the diesel generators on each wind turbine….each and every one and at sea. Another massive expense billed to our wallets. AGW wins !

  28. catalanbrian says:

    Colin. You are wrong about the diesel generators. This is undoubtedly another piece of misinformation peddled by the anti wind turbine lobby. The facts are that if the wind turbine is connected to the grid then there i..s no need for diesel generators. Prior to grid connection contractors may need to use diesel generators to provide power, just like on any other construction project.

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