Plans for a controversial mega-wind farm on the Isle of Lewis were dropped earlier this year following fears that golden eagles and other birds would be killed by massive turbine blades. Estimates indicated that up to 22 golden eagles, Scotland’s national bird of prey, would be killed over the next 25 years as well as potential harm caused to other sensitive species had this project gone ahead.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Scottish National Heritage (SNH) have however now withdrawn their objections to plans for to build a major wind farm in the Western Isles following the developers decision to reduce the number of turbines for the Stornoway Wind Farm from 42 to 36. RSPB Scotland had concerns that the 42 turbine projects would threaten golden eagle and red-throated diver habitats. SNH had similar worries.
Comparisons with what takes place in the United States.
California officials report an average of 67 golden eagles die each year at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm, located in Alameda County which contains the highest density of nesting golden eagles in the world. The turbines there are also estimated to kill more than 2,000 raptors, along with thousands of smaller birds and bats each year.
The death toll following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, called by some as ‘the worst environmental disaster in history, pales in comparison to the carnage wrought in the name of environmentalism. Nationally, the US Fish & Wildlife Service reports wind turbines kill 440,000 birds each year.
Of added interest is the fact that oil companies face heavy fines for killing many fewer birds, and several large power plants with merely the potential to harm threatened species were denied application by the California Energy Commissions.
So, what’s the life of a bird worth? In Scotland, conservation groups like SNH and the RSPB go to extremes to protect species. In the US, if you’re a big Big Oil company, it can range from $7,000 to $20,000 per bird. If you’re a wind energy company, it cost nothing.