Spain’s Extremadura region has up to now been free of wind farms, but his could all change in 2013. The chosen site of a wind farm project couldn’t be worse, being located smack in the middle of Monfragüe’s Important Bird Area (IBA). Making matters much worst it is proposed to locate the project only 5 km from the Special Protection Area (SPA) and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and 12 km to the north of the National Park of Monfragüe, the jewel in the birdwatching crown of Extremadura. Moreover, the town of Plasencia, only 3 km from the threshing wind vanes, is in the process itself of being declared an SPA in its own right on the strength of its Lesser Kestrel colony. To cap it all these Lesser Kestrels roost for several months each year in the SPA of Monfragüe, winging back and forth daily through the projected line of the “wind mills”.
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The proposed wind turbines would be located only 5 km from the nests of Egyptian Vulture and Black Stork and 8 km from the nests of Golden Eagle and 12 km from hundreds-strong colonies of Cinereous and Griffon Vulture and nests of Imperial and Bonelli’s Eagle. Monfragüe needs no presentation here; it is considered to be one of the world’s most important raptor reserves, with outstanding populations at world level of Cinereous Vulture (340 pairs and the world’s largest density), Griffon Vulture (800 pairs), Egyptian Vulture (35 pairs), Imperial Eagle (12 pairs), Golden Eagle (6 pairs) and Bonelli’s Eagle (6 pairs). The area is also home to the handsome Black Stork (30 pairs) and a long list of other birds. As already pointed out the wind farm would be very close to the Lesser Kestrel colonies of Plasencia (65 pairs) and Malpartida de Plasencia (10 pairs) and some nests of Black Stork, Egyptian Vulture and Peregrine Falcon in that neighbourhood. Furthermore the wind farm would also be situated in breeding territories, even directly affecting nests, of Short-Toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Sparrow Hawk, Black Kite, Red Kite and Buzzard. It would directly occupy the hunting grounds of Lesser Kestrel and many other raptors, including Imperial Eagle, recently observed flying over the planned wind turbine zone. Neither should we forget the impact on the local bat population and orchid colonies (for example Giant Orchid) as well as other plant species.
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In any case this project is almost surreal, riding roughshod too over nearby human populations. In line with the wind turbines and only 300 metres from their base is a therapeutic community of “Proyecto Hombre” (Man Project); there are dwellings only 500 metres away and the project threatens the budding tourism of Plasencia, Extremadura’s fourth most populous town. More information here.