RSPB received the following via Twitter the other day ...
"#Starlings #RSPB #windfarms - 20K to be killed by windfarm near us. Need to save them - RSPB doing nothing - its a joke!"
To de-code for those of you not familiar with the language of twitter, the person posting this was alleging that the RSPB was doing nothing to save twenty thousand starlings from death by turbine blade. A little detective work ensued and we concluded this was linked to an application for a windfarm at East Youlstone in Devon. Possibly, although it's not entirely clear - with its 140 character limit twitter is not an ideal medium for detailed debate.
Anyway, to the person posting, and anyone else who's interested, I attach the four page letter we wrote to the Planning Inspectorate in March concerning this application and that details our concerns about the proposal.
The RSPB's position on wind farms is very clear. Climate change is the biggest threat to our wildlife. We must do all we can therefore to reduce our dependence of fossil fuels and reduce our carbon emissions. Renewable energy we believe has an important role to play here. It's not the only option. There's energy conservation at home and work. And there's proper protection for our carbon stores, whether that be in forest or peat. But renewables are important, and this must include wind power - especially here in a country so blessed with this widespread natural resource.
The RSPB therefore starts from a position where we want to help. We give comment on the impact wind farm proposals have on wildlife, particularly birds. We do not comment on the aesthetic impact of such proposals - we have no expertise in this area. Neither do we comment on the economic or engineering issues related to the generation of power from wind, unless this has a bearing on wildlife. Our job is simply to make sure that the impact of any proposal on birds and wildlife is properly assessed and then appropriate action taken to address any issues. On large scemes we are happy to work with a developer to turn what might be a bad proposal into a good one. We did this most recently with a proposal in Dorset, a proposal that was recently granted permission - which we welcome.
However, if what we believe to be a bad proposal cannot be made good, we will maintain an objection and do all we can to either stop development or get appropriate compensation if possible - much in the same way we would with a poor road, airport or housing development.
In short, be it large offshore wind farms such as Atlantic Array in North Devon or Navitus off the coast of Dorset, or smaller on-shore facilities, the RSPB welcomes proposals as a contribution to the fight against climate change, but is keen through working with developers to make sure they are in the right place and designed to mimimise impact on birds and wildlife.
Thanks for your reply. I agree twitter is not about informed debate - more about instant impact. I did not wish to insult the RSPB or insinuate that you don't care. I did however get a reaction and that was my initial intent.
The development to which I refer is actually Wheelers Cross and not East Youlstone. Wheelers Cross is a development of 6 turbines at a hub height of 89m. The EIA for Wheelers Cross utilises a survey done by Coronation Power who were proposing only 4 turbines. This survey suggested that 800+ starlings could be killed per year and over a 25 year period this adds up to approximately 20,000 starlings. A very high number I am sure you will agree.
Now we must take into account that this was 4 turbines spaced further apart. The new proposal is for 6 turbines closer together. Surely a more dangerous prospect.
The RSPB have been in contact with the developers Wind Prospect and their email correspondence is posted on the Torridge District Council website. I was very disappointed to read the correspondence. It would appear to me that the RSPB have agreed with Wind Prospect that no mitigation needs to be put in place but they have agreed to a carcass count and then will decide what mitigation is required.
I cannot understand this logic and please correct me if I have misunderstood. I cannot believe that a red listed bird is available to be slaughtered by big business. It just feels completely wrong. I do agree that we need to take care of our planet but I cannot justify this wholesale slaughter in the name of long term climate mitigation. Surely there are more suitable places to put a windfarm that will not create such wholesale destruction of a red listed species. Again I would be interested in your response and correction of my misunderstanding of your position.