Germany plans to build 60,000 new wind turbines — in forests, in the foothills of the Alps and even in protected environmental areas. But local residents are up in arms, costs are skyrocketing and Germany’s determination to phase out nuclear power is in danger.
The German village of Husarenhof, just north of Stuttgart, nestles picturesquely between orchards and vineyards. Peter Hitzker’s house stands on a sharp bend in the road. “Sometimes I get up in the morning and find a couple of totaled cars in the front yard,” he says. “But I guess nowhere’s perfect.”
Still, he finds the wind turbine behind his garden fence harder to cope with. The tower is 180 meters (590 feet) high, and the whirr of the blades and grinding of the actuators are clearly audible.
“When I leave my local bar in Heilbronn, 15 kilometers from here, I find my way home by heading for the turbine,” he quips.
But he can’t think of anything else positive to say about the turbine. “It’s dreadful,” he says. “And it’s split the village. It’s war here.”
The wind turbine, an Enercon E-82, has been there for over a year. When it was inaugurated, the local shooting club, the “Black Hunters”, fired their guns in celebration, and the local priest delivered a sermon on protecting God’s creation.
But not everyone is happy. Some are angry at the way the landscape, celebrated by German Romantic poets such as Hölderlin and Mörike, is being butchered. The opponents protest with images of the Grim Reaper holding a wind turbine rather than his traditional scythe.
The situation in Husarenhof can be found across Germany. After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and Germany’s swift decision to abandon nuclear energy and embrace renewable energy as part of its so-called Energiewende, the country’s 16 federal states reacted with a sort of excessive zeal. The northeastern state of Brandenburg plans to set aside 2 percent of its land for wind farms. The western state of Rhineland-Palatinate intends to more than double the amount of wind power it generates. North Rhine-Westphalia, its neighbor to the north, is planning an increase of more than 300 percent.
The winds of change are blowing in Germany — and hard. Flat-bed trucks laden with tower segments make their way slowly across boggy fields. Cranes crawl up narrow forest paths to set up outsized wind turbines on the tops of mountains. Germany aims to increase its production of wind power from 31,000 to 45,000 megawatts over the next seven years. By the middle of the century, it hopes to be generating 85,000 megawatts in wind power
With the prime coastal locations already taken, operators are increasingly turning their attention to areas further inland. Even valuable tourist regions — such as the Moselle valley, the Allgäu and the foothills of the Alps — are to be sacrificed. Sites have even been earmarked by Lake Constance and near Starnberg, where the Bavarian King Ludwig II drowned.
At the moment, things are still in the planning, reporting and application stage. Local authorities’ filing cabinets are overflowing with authorization documents and wind strength measurements. Plans call for some 60,000 new turbines to be erected in Germany — and completely alter its appearance.
The Backer-Opponent Divide
But what’s really going on? Are politicians wisely creating the tools needed to prevent the end of the world as we know it? Or are they simply marring the countryside?
More than 700 citizens’ initiatives have been founded in Germany to campaign against what they describe as “forests of masts”, “visual emissions” and the “widespread devastation of our highland summits.”
The opponents carry coffins symbolizing the death of environmental protection. They organize petitions on an almost daily basis. Local residents by Lake Starnberg have even filed a legal complaint alleging that the wind turbines violate Germany’s constitution.
The underlying divide is basic and irreconcilable. On one side stand environmentalists and animal rights activists passionate about protecting the tranquility of nature. On the other are progressively minded champions of renewable energy and climate activists determined to secure the long-term survival of the planet.
The question is: How many forests must be sacrificed, how many horizons dotted with wind turbines, to meet Germany’s new energy targets? Where is the line between thoughtful activism and excessive zeal? At what point is taxpayer money simply being thrown away?
The wrangling over these issues has led many in Germany’s Green Party to question what their party really stands for. Enoch zu Guttenberg, a founding member of Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), noisily left the association last year because of its support for wind power. Since then, he has felt a “panicky need” to warn humanity about the “giant totems of the cult of unlimited energy.”
Michael Succow, a prominent German environmentalist and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize, is also threatening to abandon ship. He fears soulless stretches of land and lost tranquility.
And his fears are not unfounded. Back in the 1980s, tree-huggers put up Aeroman wind turbines in their front yards — but those days are long gone. Just the masts of today’s wind turbines can reach up to 160 meters high. When active, they kill so many insects that the sticky mass slows the rotors down.
The sweeping blades of the Enercon E-126 cover an area of seven football fields. The rotors of modern wind turbines weigh up to 320 metric tons. There are 83 such three-armed bandits in Germany’s largest wind farm, near the village of Ribbeck, northwest of Berlin.
As they drive their SUVs through these turbine forests, tolerantly minded city-dwellers sometimes comment on how ugly eastern Germany has become. Others find them attractive — as they speed past.
But local Nimbies (“Nimby” = Not In My Back Yard) are indignant. Apart from everything else, the value of their homes has plummeted.
Even sparsely populated areas are beginning to take action. Take, for example, the campaign “Rettet Brandenburg” (“Save Brandenburg”). This eastern state surrounding Berlin is already home to more than 3,100 wind turbines, more than any other federal state. Now, however, the powers-that-be want to build 3,000 more turbines, but state residents are up in arms and have launched a citizen’s initiative. At a protest day held in late May, its members railed against “wind-grubbers” and “monster mills.”
Maxing Out Turbine Size
Nevertheless, their protests will do little to stop wind-turbine manufacturers from eagerly building taller and taller models. For the relatively weak inland winds to generate sufficient energy and profits, Germany’s wind farmers need to reach higher and higher into the skies.
The goal is to get away from the turbulence found near the ground and to climb up into the Ekman layer, above 100 meters high, where the wind blows continuously. Up there, the forces of nature rage freely, creating enough terawatts to meet the energy needs of the global population hundreds of times over. Or at least that’s the theory.
Inland, the “technical trend” toward bigger wind turbines “continues unabated,” according to a study recently published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES).
A visit to the IWES test center in the northern port city of Bremerhaven reveals what lies in store. The center is home to a next-generation rotary blade: flexible, wobbly even, weighing 30 metric tons and stretching 83.5 meters across.
The mammoth prototype blade is currently at the testing stage. Hydraulic presses and cables bend and buffet the blade millions of times over, simulating the stress exerted by storms and gusts of wind.
IWES meteorologist Paul Kühn thinks that the mast themselves, without the blades, could grow to up to 200 meters high. Anything taller would be unprofitable due to the “square-cube law.”
So, might we one day see wind turbines with blades stretching up almost 300 meters into the clouds — a somber memorial to Germany’s nuclear phase-out? Even hip urban fans of renewable energy think that would take some getting used to.
Recent studies by bird protectors reveal how the giant blades chop up the air in brutal fashion. “Golden plovers avoid the wind turbines,” says Potsdam-based ornithologist Jörg Lippert. Swallows and storks, on the other hand, fly straight into them. The barbastelle bat’s lungs collapse as it flies by. A “terrible future” awaits the lesser spotted eagle and red kite, Lippert says.
German citizens are also having to make sacrifices to meet the ambitious goals of the new energy policy. In England, large wind turbines must be situated at least 3,000 meters away from houses in residential areas. In Germany, which is more densely populated, local planners place turbines much closer to homes. In the southern state of Bavaria, for example, the minimum separation is 500 meters, while it’s just 300 meters in the eastern state of Saxony.
In the early days, when everyone was still very excited about clean wind power, some farmers in northerly coastal areas allowed turbines to be erected even 250 meters from their cottages. And then they received large compensation payments when the noise from the rotors triggered stampedes in their pigsties.
But now even those in northern Germany are grumbling. Many old wind turbines are being replaced with new, more powerful ones in a process known as “repowering.” Instead of 50 meters tall, these new turbines are more than 150 meters high, have flashing lights on them to prevent aircraft from hitting them and make a lot of noise as they rotate.
The result? Complaints about the noise everywhere.
July 8, 2013
Nurses for Safe Renewable Power.wordpress,com
The Canadian Wind Energy Association or CanWEA–which we must remind readers is an industry lobby group, not an environmental organization—is trying to make the best of the loss at the Ostrander Point environmental review tribunal. (The Tribunal revoked the approval for the project which was roundly criticized because it is an Important Bird Area of “global significance”; it was in fact the threat to the endangered Blanding’s Turtle that was the reason for the dismissal of the approval for the project.)
CanWEA must be smarting from the decision, which marks the first time a project approval has been reversed in Ontario. We are not sure how the thing got this far in the first place, when the Ministry of Natural Resources actually granted approval for the wind power developer to “kill, harm and harass” the Blanding’s Turtle.
So on Friday, CanWEA put out a news release to say the Environmental Review Tribunal actually upheld the idea that there is no “direct or indirect” health threat from the environmental noise from industrial-scale wind turbines and further, that the 550-meter setback in Ontario is safe.
The news release can be found here: http://www.canwea.ca/media/release/release_e.php?newsId=184
A reading of the actual decision could lead you in a different direction, however. The fact is, the Ostrander Point project was an important bird area, but not that many people live there. Eight, in fact. So, as the panel stated, the tribunal had to look at this project, as it does all of them subject to appeal, on a project-by-project basis.
This appeal featured testimony from 11 “post-turbine witnesses” i.e., people already living among or next to the wind power generating projects in Ontario.
Here are some of the statements from the decision that CanWEA is NOT referencing.
 The Tribunal wishes to emphasize that it found no attempts by any witness to mislead the Tribunal. …The Tribunal has no difficulty finding that all the witnesses were credible, and some of the health conditions they described could certainly be described as seriously impacting their quality of life.
 With respect to the proposed case Definition of AHE/IWTs (adverse health effects/industrial wind turbines), the Tribunal finds that it is a work in progress. It is a preliminary attempt to explain symptoms that appear to be suffered by people with whom [witness] Dr. McMurtry is familiar, who live in the environs of wind turbines.
 The Tribunal accepts the witness’ testimony as entirely credible; however, there are dangers inherent in attempting to draw general conclusions from anecdotal, personal and unique experiences. It is even more problematic to apply conclusions made from those unique personal circumstances at a certain location, to projects at other locations.
The Tribunal also raised the issue of public safety in an area such as Ostrander Point which is used by the public for recreational purposes. The Ministry of Natural Resources cannot have things “both ways,” the Tribunal said, in encouraging the public to make use of Crown land, while also permitting it to be used for industrial purposes.
Nevertheless, despite the evidence of health effects from the environmental noise and vibration produced by wind power projects, and the experiences of people from around the world, the Tribunal failed to acknowledge the strength of that evidence.
The Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County of APPEC, Appellant in the Ostrander Point case, appealing the approval on the basis of “serious harm to human health” was compelled to issue a news release following the decision. An excerpt follows:
“The ERT panel declined to connect the health evidence with expert opinion. Instead, it argued that medical diagnoses and noise studies are required. These demands far exceed the legal test that wind victims are “more likely than not” suffering “serious harm to health” from wind turbines.
“The decision suggests that the ERT process is fundamentally flawed,” said APPEC president Gord Gibbins. “The Ministry of Environment has no scientific basis for its 550-m residential setbacks. The Ministry of Health has never conducted any health studies on wind turbines. Yet, under the Liberal government’s Green Energy Act, appellants to the ERT are expected to assume the burden of proof when challenging projects, just as if they were taking on the tobacco industry.”
“It seems that citizens are required to undertake acoustical and epidemiological research,” Gibbins added. “It is not enough to provide evidence of specific, ongoing harmful effects. This requirement turns the standard of proof, ‘the balance of probabilities,’ into a test well beyond the reasonable.”
APPEC is therefore considering an appeal to the Ontario Divisional Court. Meanwhile, APPEC contends that the Ministry of Environment should re-examine existing regulations and exercise caution in approvals of the siting of all new wind power projects. There is sufficient evidence to justify a precautionary approach.
What the Environmental Review Tribunal did NOT do then was protect the citizens of Ontario; the Government of Ontario continues to enact a flawed process that is heavily weighted toward big business, and in opposition to the interests of citizens and the natural environment.
July 1, 2013
A rare bird hit by wind turbine blades in the presence of birdwatchers leads conservationists to ask some disturbing questions.Photo: courtesy of the Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Does fatal attraction of hirundines to wind turbines threaten populations and species?
The fatal impact of a white-throated needletail with a wind turbine in Scotland (1) raises serious concerns, with ramifications far beyond the sad loss of a single, spectacular vagrant. As a rare visitor, this individual bird was being very carefully observed, and thus there was a far higher chance of a turbine impact being detected than is the case for most small birds. Only a minuscule fraction of birds are intensively monitored in this way, and if the movements and fates of many other individual birds were being monitored, then what appears to be a rare event might prove to be frequent – or indeed probable. The death of this needletail should remind us that numerous small birds are being hit by turbines without detection or raising alarm. However, other hirundine deaths have already been documented amongst Europe’s wind turbines (2).
The needletail encountered a small, lone turbine. On the face of it, this is highly unlikely – unless the bird was actively attracted to the vicinity of the turbine. Indeed, some insects are attracted to wind turbines, and some bats are attracted to their deaths by unknown features of the turbines – possibly the food concentration around them (3, 4, 5). Remarkably, there are reports of bats commuting to wind turbines up to 14 km offshore for such food resources, as well as others stopping, perching and feeding around them during migration (4). This attraction exerted by wind turbines extends their ecological footprint to new, unsuspected dimensions.
We hypothesise that hirundines (including swifts, swallows, martins, swiftlets and needletails) might also be attracted to insects flying around these machines – onshore and offshore. Indeed, awareness has already been raised about the potential attraction of insectivorous birds to wind turbines (5). Reports (5, 6) that hirundines can comprise a third of turbine victims in Sweden and are being killed by domestic micro-turbines in Britain merit further investigation. Another consideration is that certain landscape features and air flows might attract both wind farm developers and hirundines, putting them on a collision course as they do with raptors.
We propose that wind turbines, let alone wind farms, may create extensive population sinks which could deplete and exterminate populations of birds and bats. We doubt the woeful amount of independent monitoring of turbine impacts would be capable of detecting this threat in most regions or for most species.
In the circumstances, a precautionary approach would be particularly appropriate in areas with populations of already threatened endemic hirundines, bats and other species – as in Seychelles or the Mascarenes for instance. For such areas, irreversible global extinction might be caused by wind turbines, yet even the highest standards of monitoring (including videos and radio transmitters) might be insufficient to alert us in time. We predict the extinction legacy of wind turbines will become an increasing source of concern, as ecological traps are set in vast numbers across the planet.
Clive Hambler (Lecturer in Biological and Human Sciences, Hertford College, University of Oxford)
Mark Duchamp (President, Save the Eagles International; Chair, World Council for Nature)
(1) – http://blog.birdguides.com/2013/06/white-throated-needletail.html
(2) – Photos of a sample of bird fatalities due to wind farms, including hirundines, from the Save the Eagles International website: http://savetheeagles.wordpress.com/birdkill-pictures/
– More pictures of birds killed by wind turbines may be seen here: http://savetheeaglesinternational.org/multimedia/
and there are many more.
(3) – Video monitoring of bats flying between turbine blades, showing some getting struck: http://www.epaw.org/multimedia.php?lang=es&article=b6
(4) – “We recorded 11 species (of a community of 18 species) flying over the ocean up to 14 km from the shore.” Ahlén, I. et al. (2009). Behaviour of Scandinavian bats during migration and foraging at sea. Journal of Mammology, 90, 1318-1323
– “The bats did not avoid the turbines. On the contrary they stayed for shorter or longer periods hunting close to the windmills because of the accumulation of flying insects. Hunting close to the blades was observed, why the risk of colliding might be comparable to land-based turbines. Bats also used wind turbines for resting. Insects were collected at places and times when bats were observed feeding.” Ahlén, I. et al. (2007). Bats and offshore wind turbines studied in southern Scandinavia. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Report 5571. http://www.naturvardsverket.se/Documents/publikationer/620-5571-2.pdf
(5) – “Increased risks depend on insect hunting (swifts, swallows), carrion search (crows, ravens, some raptors), and hangwind gliding (red kites, eagles, and buzzards).” – Ahlén, I. (2010). Fågelarter funna under vindkraftverk i Sverige. Var Fågelvärld, 4/2010, 8-12 http://www.slu.se/PageFiles/8390/artiklar/BirdsWindPowerVF2010.pdf
June 18, 2013
It’s not easy to unite the right-wing Heartland Institute and bird-loving environmentalists.
But that’s what some wind energy developers appear to be doing by proposing to the federal government that they be allowed to kill bald eagles and other protected species with their turbines.
Across the country, 14 wind projects have applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for permits that would let them “take” — aka harm or kill — a certain number of eagles each year. That includes four wind farms in California, one in Minnesota, and one in Oklahoma.
June 17, 2013 – I wonder what it will take before the world truly wakes up to the horror, the corruption, the expense, the pointlessness, the total wrongness-in-every-way of the wind industry. My guess – and it will happen – is the decapitation, by a rogue turbine blade, of an innocent passer-by.
Till then, though, we have photographs like this to send the mind boggling as to why anyone, anywhere can still be so purblind as to go on championing these bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco crucifixes. What’s particularly interesting about this one is that it was taken in the constituency of one of wind power’s most fervent and tireless advocates, Caroline Lucas MP.
Marian Cleary – who Tweets as @soundwords – takes up the story on Twitter:
All quite horrific really. Been asked if it’s photoshopped. Nope. Was at Varndean College, Brighton.
The wind turbine was going bonkers so I was filming it with the clouds moving behind the blades.
I didn’t get the incident on film but then a guy called me over and said that the bird had been got.
Careful, Marian. You now run the risk that someone from the wind industry will claim you chopped off that gull’s head yourself, probably because you are in the pay of Big Oil….
Now it might have been interesting to ring up the RSPB for a reaction. But there’s no point because we know what they think already. As far as the RSPB is concerned, the many thousands of birds destroyed by wind turbines each year are acceptable collateral damage in the war on “climate change.” So committed is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds to renewable energy that it has actually teamed up with Ecotricity – the one run by Dale Vince – in a promotional deal to encourage more wind farm building. For chapter and verse, read my expose here.
But the birds and bats are the least of it, terrible though the carnage is. It’s the human cost, surely, which should concern us more.
Consider the plight of the communities in Canada, where the wind industry is even more aggressive than it is here. One Ontario resident, Esther Wrightman so objected to the Golgotha of 400 foot wind turbines being planned for her area that she created a satirical website mocking the wind developer NextEra energy. She even filmed them chopping down a tree with an eagle’s nest in it in order to make way for the turbines. How did NextEra – market capitalisation $32 billion – respond to her not exactly unreasonable objections? Why by suing the pants off her, of course.
Fortunately, thanks to the coverage it has been getting from Ezra Levant, Esther Wrightman’s story is becoming an international cause celebre – and the rent-seeking nasties at NextEra are getting the negative publicity they fully deserve.
So the anti-wind backlash has begun, of that there’s no doubt. In Australia, where resistance is especially strong, they’re holding a rally in the next few hours in Canberra to protest against an industry described by Alby Schultz MP as “the biggest government sponsored fraud in the history of our country”, so rife with “manipulation, intimidation, lies and cover-up” that there’s enough evidence to justify a royal commission. I wish I could be there at the barricades with my Aussie mates. Sounds like it’s going to be quite an occasion.
What I wish is that one of our MPs could be quite as outspoken as good old Alby. Chris Heaton Harris has fought a good fight, as have Owen Paterson, John Hayes, Peter Lilley and Glyn Davies. But they’ve all been hamstrung by the presence in the Coalition of ideological eco-loons like Ed Davey who, even now, despite the copious evidence against, persist in championing wind energy as the way forward. They’re further hamstrung by the Conservative party’s ludicrous policy fudge whereby, apparently, there is such a thing as a “wind turbine in the right place” and that this mythical beast includes all offshore wind developments.
Economically, of course, offshore wind makes even less sense than onshore, not least because it requires twice the subsidy, but also because, as most engineers privately admit, these sea-based turbines are disasters waiting to happen and are highly unlikely to stay up any length of time. And while we’re on this subject, what on earth is The Times doing shilling for Big Wind with this utter non-story about how Donald Trump is apparently threatening to cost “British SMEs dear” thanks to his opposition to an offshore wind development near his golf course in Scotland? The supposedly neutral source they quote for this story is The Carbon Trust, the government quango to which we taxpayers must contribute £44 million a year to enable it to dream up inventive new ways to cripple our economy with carbon emissions reductions schemes.
Yet another reason to vote UKIP, the only British party with a sensible policy on this green nonsense.
Courtesy of James Delingpole, The Telegraph (UK)
Nextera gives a Nexus* card to anti-wind movement: fast tracks bird issues and shines a light on industry-wide bullying OR “Nobody kills Eagles like Nextera”
(*Nexus: expedited passage through dedicated lanes at points of air travel.)
Billion dollar wind company, Nextera, sues activist Esther Wrightman, Kerwood, Ontario (Bornish project). Esther had the temerity to satirize the Nextera logo, using the term “Nexterror”, and also refused to remove a video depicting the brutal removal of an active eagles nest permitted literally “over the weekend.”
According to Jim Wiegand, a specialist in bird biology and wind turbine bird kills:
“Nobody has a history of killing eagles like the wind energy company Nextera. So if you were an eagle it would make perfect sense that their turbines would be terrifying. If you were an eagle minding your own business and had your wing severed from a slashing blade, knowing you were going to die, this would certainly seem like an act of terror. Thousands of eagles have died this way. If you had just fledged your offspring and while they were learning to hunt, had them butchered by nearby turbines, this would also seem to be terrifying. The charity that Nextera wants to donate any settlement funds to should come out and say they want no part in any of this. I think a better idea would be for Nextera to donate any settlement funds to a truly independent Wildlife Biologist, for proper wind turbine mortality and cumulative impact studies.”
Did Nextera anticipate the flurry of articles and media interest that has occurred by suing Rock Garden specialist, and anti-wind activist, Esther Wrightman? And what is the subtext to the 32 Billion (Market Capitalization) company (with numerous paid lobbyists), lawsuit that on the surface incorrectly mentions being called “terrorists” by the blogger, Wrightman, and an antipathy for satirical use of its logo? (Wrightman did not use the word terrorists, but merely changed the logo to “Nexterror,” which could be read as Terror, or Error. This satiric branding, in both shapes, it should be mentioned, has been used by many activists for some time now.
Wrightman’s claim to fame in Ontario is her tenacity, her vociferous and catchy, truly clever appearances at protests. Her video document of Nextera’s removal of an Eagle nest, with video clips of workers saying it was to be “destroyed” has gone viral. This same permit for removal came late on a Friday, with the odious work to be completed by Sunday. Ostensibly, this was an effort to remove public scrutiny from an already eagle death-tainted company. The removal of the nest got international attention, but the lawsuit is something of a gift to the movement, which is using the suit as an “educable moment,” and of course to respond to the long standing commitment to company profits over the environment that Nextera has shown. What many now see as the “face” of this wind company is flagrant bullying. It is certain that the parody of “terror” and wind will escalate now.
Bullying is now seen as pandemic by global groups fighting the onslaught of wind turbines, energy sprawl. A few examples of unreasonable and egregious behaviour follows:
- A man has threats of damage against his vehicle, upon entering a public comment meeting
- A woman is grabbed by two hired security officers and put out of a comment meeting because she was carrying a sign with a stick handle
- Landowners are lied to about neighbors having signed up, when indeed they had not
- Intimidation is reported widely re pressure to sign leases: people are told: “everyone in your community is in favor”
- Gag orders after buying out homeowners whose homes are too toxic to live in
- Wind developers enter a community, work against common principles of fair play, and knowingly, now knowingly, as has been unearthed by Freedom of Information documents variously, force giant industrial wind factories on sensitive environments, and disrupting property rights, and maiming, inflicting real blows on, gainful work and health
- Lobby governments, or collude, to get permits to kill, harm harass endangered species, at risk species, destroy habitat
- Create gigantic interfaces of Orwellian misinformation, creating confusion among all, permeating advertising, textbooks, and all manner of necessary and incidental purchases; adding this to hydro bills
- Creating a labyrinth of legal manoeuvers for beleaguered communities to jump through in the vague hopes of having permits upturned by the courts (for example, Ontario’s ERT process, Environmental Review Tribunal, hugely expensive, and communities only have 15 days to file following an approval. None have to date have stopped a project.)
- “Nextera has been excessively aggressive in getting people and municipalities to sign lease agreements and easements.” Just one of many large wind companies, but this one is the third largest in North America, operating vastly and easily across two nations (from Wrightman’s statement of defence)
- Badgering and threatening to run transmission lines and substations in places not viable for landowners who protest
- Donations of sums of money to local key agencies, hence another form of bribery or gag
- Various threats of legal actions, to persons and municipalities who are “in the way” of projects
(This list provides merely examples: please send us your experiences.)
The lawsuit being advanced in Canada, by Florida wind developer, Nextera, shines even more light on the company’s history of bird kills, bullying, and flagrant abuse of power. This suit, filed in a Toronto courthouse this past week, is against a homemaker and rock garden plant expert, a humble but formidable blogger against wind power, who had the temerity to satirize a billion dollar wind company.
Mitigation and a License to Kill
The Ontario lawsuit also focuses international attention on the history of a wind company that has touched on its own historical legal woes in California. We can only assume that the $2.5 million in mitigation fees were paid to the “Energy Commission’s Public Integrated Energy Research Program, and the East Bay Regional Park District and the Livermore Area Park District for raptor habitat creation,” is presumably a slap on the wrist for a company which in 2012 had operating revenues of 14 Billion.
The shocking and inaccurate documentation of Eagle and raptor kills at Altamont Pass, and elsewhere, is well known. “A 2004 California Energy Commission study found that the Altamont Pass turbines killed between 1,800 and 4,700 birds annually. Those fatalities included as many as 1,300 raptors such as hawks, falcons, owls and federally protected golden eagles.” But according to Wiegand, who has studied Eagles for over 44 years, “as shocking as these estimates are, searchers still missed many thousands of birds and bats each year and the latest studies have found far more wind turbine carcasses. My estimate is that with proper searches the fatalities at Altamont would be at least 2-3 times higher and the bat kill hundreds of times more than what has been reported.”
Following legal action, Nextera rejigged and has made plans to replace thousands of turbines. Next Era still owns about 2400 of the 5400 Altamont turbines. At a cost of about $350 Million, the company simply, as most see it, renewed its legacy as bird killers. (It is also established that the expensive modifications really have not impacted bird kills significantly.)
Certainly, as pointed out by several bird experts, the numbers of massive bird kills, vastly understated by USFWS and Ministries of Natural Resources, USA and Canada, would reflect on certain terror for those species whose numbers continue to plummet. There is no doubt that species such as the Whooping Crane, whose wide migration tangles with turbines and transmission sprawl, will become extinct. Predictions of the mortalities continue to escalate, and many have documented the countless maimed birds that die far from the count area. Numbers in the USA alone are now estimated at between 37 and 42 million per year. This appears to be an industry literally with a licence to ‘kill.’ Well documented now are the sometimes intensely personal accounts of bird mortality counters, and confessions of how the industry places count areas strategically to avoid finding too many dead birds and bats, and the history of burying or hiding birds in excess of allowed numbers.
US laws are firm on penalties for killing endangered Golden or Bald Eagles: a fine of up to $200,000 and/or up to 18 months in a federal prison. OR, Nextera and others, may apply for a new permit to harm, harass and kill, and receive that permit for up to 30 years. If this is a fair field for wildlife, Alice is down the Rabbit Hole again. Wiegand elucidates the misshapen truth: “The wind industry and FWS both use deceptive wind turbine eagle kill numbers. With voluntary regulations and no accountability, they routinely lie or give out half truths about eagle mortality.
There is scientific proof that the eagle death toll is much higher than what the public is being told because the media primarily reports on the body counts given them by the FWS or wind industry. The recent AP story that reported 14 deaths at seven facilities in California , New Mexico , Oregon , and Washington State and Nevada , was not even close. Even the number dead golden eagles found at Altamont have an estimated mortality to be many times the actual body count because they know they do not find most of them. At Altamont over a 5 year period, 54 golden eagle carcasses were collected (10.8 per year) and the death toll to golden eagles was estimated to be 75-116 golden eagles per year. This is 7 to 10 times more dead eagles than the actual body count.” We are reminded, sadly, that take permits given out by FWS or MNR in Ontario, are not real: they are imagined and low. The real numbers of dead is not reflective of the “found dead.”
More Errors and Terrors
Esther Wrightman, again in her statement of defense, says, “Although Nextera claims … it has a complete understanding of the local environment, including wildlife,” the Defendant notes that Nextera has missed at least two active Bald Eagle nests in its assessments in the past year alone in Ontario.
The defence also references two videos, one showing the destruction of the Eagle’s nest, and the other quoting Tom Bird of Nextera saying, “The authorization we got from the Ministry of Natural Resources was to ‘destroy this nest’.” Despite the expert advice of an eagle biologist who strongly advocated against the removal of this particular nest, eighteen workers then descended with chainsaws, cranes and bulldozers and cut down an active nest.
Wrightman adds, “The Act of cutting down an American Bald Eagle nest would usually be illegal in Ontario. Nextera received a special exemption.” What must be pondered is how many special “permits and licences to harm, harass and kill” will Nextera receive in the future, as more projects ensue? Outrage in the US is already flying “fowl”, as Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-Rialto, wants to make life even easier for wind energy developers. “The bill would allow energy companies to obtain state permits to move — or “take” — birds, nests or eggs that are in the way of transmission line projects “to help achieve the state’s renewable energy goals.”
Nextera’s bird killing history, enshrined in memory in Altamont, CA, has extended the drama to Ontario, Canada, and elsewhere. But as Amy Linn points out, industry solutions, have become problems. Permits to kill, harm and harass are abhorrent, and not solutions. To Linn, there is blood on the answers of these solutions. (quoted by Robert Bradley in Master Resource)
Did Esther Wrightman effectively parody the company’s activities with the word, Terror? Has her satire stoked a fire? From her submission:
“The Defendant submits that Nextera has brought a state of fear, terror of invasion, worry, anxiety, and destruction to the community … people have fled their homes before and after their homes have been surrounded by the Plaintiff’s wind developments.”
Next Era has 9,000 turbines across North America, more than any other wind producer.
As the bottom falls out of the man-made climate change industry, those who were among its most bullish investors at the height of the scam are now covering their positions in a bear market.
Great damage was done to this much-hyped imposture by Climategate (“Hide the decline!”), by the discredited “hockey stick”, by the farce over “melting” Himalayan glaciers and the “decrease” in the polar bear population from 5,000 in 1970 to 25,000 today. Yet what has chiefly discredited the climate change superstition is the basic, inescapable fact that there has been no global warming since 1997.
The official face-saving response is that this is a “pause” in an otherwise menacing trend – a pause of a decade and a half. The warmist fanatics will freeze to death in their solar bunkers before they will admit defeat; but the more worldly wise, especially scientists anxious to preserve a vestige of academic credibility, are now striving to effect a withdrawal in good order.
Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began to ratchet down its more extravagant predictions as early as 2007. In 2010 the Royal Society reviewed its stance on the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory and assumed a more neutral position. Since then, it has been like the retreat from Moscow: last month Oxford scientists, albeit in Delphic language, moderated forecasts of climate disaster.
Last week the ultimate warmist zealot among the political class, Tim Yeo MP, executed a spectacular volte-face. In 2009 Yeo said: “The dying gasps of the deniers [sic] will be put to bed. In five years’ time no-one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.” Now, four years later, he is saying: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.” Within the Anthropogenic Global Warming hierarchy, that retraction is broadly akin to Richard Dawkins joining the Cistercian Order.
The global warming hysteria began in the 1880s but was discredited when its prediction that CO2 would increase the mean global temperature by more than 1C by 1940 was not borne out. What gave it fresh life over the past two decades was the realisation by governments that it could provide a pretext for taxing citizens to unprecedented levels and by private entrepreneurs that government subsidies could supply a dripping roast. Of all the damage that politicians have inflicted on the public, the “green” scam has been among the most extreme.
To read more, here’s the original article, “Wind of Change is Blowing from Scotland.
May 28, 2013
World Council for Nature (WCFN)
Wind turbines offer great perching opportunities for birds of prey. From up there, they have commanding views of open spaces colonized by graminae, which attract prey such as mice, voles, rabbits, partridges, grouse etc.
First, they perch on still blades
Better resolution picture here:
Then they perch on nacelles or other parts:
Good resolution picture here:
Then they try to build a nest:
Osprey nest on wind turbine
In this case, a pair of ospreys succeeded because this turbine at Cape Vincent, NY, was mothballed.
For better resolution picture, ask email@example.com
Then they perch when the blades are moving:
See this video of a turkey vulture:
This perilous perching often ends up in loss of life.
But they also get struck while looking for prey or carrion below the turbines:
See this VIDEO of a griffon vulture on Crete island: http://epaw.org/multimedia.php?article=b2
CONCLUSION: ornithologists hired by wind farm developers are misrepresenting the facts when they say that raptors “avoid” wind farms, or “are displaced” by them. The simple truth is that they are ATTRACTED, then KILLED by wind turbines. California’s very large Altamont Pass windfarm, for instance, kills about 1300 raptors a year, of which 116 golden eagles on average. – Source: “Developing Methods to Reduce Bird Mortality In the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area” (pages 73 & 74, see last column: “adjusted for search detection and scavenging”) – Dr. S.Smallwood et al. (2004).
Would so many be killed if they “avoided” or “were displaced” by wind turbines?
…in About-Face Move
May 14, 2013
by Chris Clarke
In a reversal that has outraged environmentalists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it will not penalize a Southern California wind operator if its turbines kill or injure one California condor. One of the world’s most critically endangered animals with fewer than 250 birds in the wild, the condor’s range in the Tehachapi Mountains is being encroached on by intensive wind turbine development.
FWS biologist Ray Bransfield told ReWire that FWS has completed its Biological Opinion (BiOp) on condors for Google and Citicorp’s Alta East project, which would be built and operated by wind developer Terra-Gen. Occupying 2,592 acres, mostly on public lands, near the intersection of state routes 14 and 58 in Kern County, Alta East would generate a maximum of 318 megawatts of electrical power with 106 wind turbines, each with 190-foot-long blades.
FWS’s BiOp for Alta East includes an “incidental take statement” that in effect allows one “lethal take” of a California condor. “Incidental take” of a protected species is a term of art covering any kind of injury, harassment or disturbance, or even habitat damage that a project causes inadvertently. “Lethal take” is when the species in question dies. If the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approves the project, FWS would require formal re-review of the project’s impact on condors if a single condor is killed over the 30-year operating life of the facility.
According to FWS, other wind developers are welcome to apply for similar permits. “This is the first time we’ve authorized incidental takes of California condors — and we’re approaching them very cautiously,” said FWS Director Dan Ashe in an interview with Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times.
According to FWS press spokesperson Stephanie Weagley, the BiOp was issued approximately a week ago and delivered to the BLM, which is in the process of determining whether to approve Alta East. Standard practice dictates that BiOps for a project are made public when the lead agency — the BLM, in this case — issues a Record Of Decision on the project. Attempts by ReWire to obtain an advance copy of the Alta East condor BiOp have so far been unsuccessful.
Condors are especially threatened by the new generation of wind turbines because they fly slowly, their 9-foot wingspans making them somewhat slow to maneuver. They tend to soar while watching the ground, searching for activity of other scavengers. This habit makes them vulnerable to injury from blade tips approaching from above, often at speeds exceeding 150 miles per hour.
Alta East has come under heavy scrutiny for its threat to condors in the east Tehachapis. It’s far from the only wind facility that poses such a threat: the area has seen startling growth in wind installations in the last four years, many of those installations every bit as much a threat to California’s largest bird. According to Bransfield, the Alta East facility is the first to come up for incidental take consideration because it occupies BLM land. Asked in email whether this pending incidental take permit offered a precedent for neighboring facilities, Bransfield told ReWire:
“Our biological opinion (and the incidental take statement included in the biological opinion) are specific to this project. We would need to evaluate any future projects on their own merits; therefore, I do not have an answer to that question. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that numerous wind projects are already in operation in this area; none of them applied for an incidental take permit from the Service; also, none of them are on Federal land, so this is the first to undergo consultation.”
Of the 132 free-flying condors in California as of March 2013, nearly half — 65 birds — live in the Tehachapis, well within an easy day’s flight of the burgeoning wind developments in the vicinity of Alta East. And according to telemetry from the transmitters worn by many of the birds, they’re moving right up against the Tehachapi Wind Energy Area — and in many cases flying across it.
The revelation of the pending take permit caught many wildlife protection activists by surprise, and several told ReWire that it was difficult to offer a measured response on behalf of their organizations without access to the text of the BiOp. But the reaction of Center for Biological Diversity attorney Adam Keats quoted in Friday’s Times article aptly summarized most of the sentiment ReWire found among activists: “This is a sad day for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Keats told the Times. “We’re talking about perhaps one of the most endangered species on the planet, let alone in this country.”
“It’s premature and inappropriate,” said condor expert Sophie Osborn, wildlife program director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council and author of “Condors in Canyon Country: The Return of the California Condor to the Grand Canyon Region.” Osborn, who managed the Peregrine Fund’s involvement with the Grand Canyon condor reintroduction for many years, told ReWire that the incidental take permit flies in the face of what we know about how to help birds survive wind energy development. “Proper siting means finding out which areas pose less threat to birds. It means not putting turbines in high use areas, not allowing development in places that have heavy wildlife traffic.”
“This just seems like a recipe for losing condors,” she added.
Osborn also took issue with a statement by Dan Ashe quoted in Louis Sahagun’s Los Angeles Times piece, in which the FWS chief said “The good news is that we have an expanding population of condors, which are also expanding their range.”
“The reason we have an expanding population is that we’re breeding and releasing condors,” said Osborn. “That doesn’t offer an accurate picture of how they’re doing once they’re released.”
If a condor is killed at Alta East during that 30-year period, the BLM will have to do what’s known in the endangered species business as “reinitiating formal consultation” — essentially restarting the process by which FWS determines whether a project will jeopardize the existence of an endangered species.
That’s a reassuring-sounding prospect: FWS will assess whether a project that has killed an endangered animal poses further threat to the species. The process is often less reassuring in practice than it is in theory. Endangered species advocates were hoping for a “jeopardy” finding when solar developer BrightSource started finding hundreds more federally threatened desert tortoises on the site of its Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System than were forecast in that project’s BiOp. The original BiOp and take permit allowed BrightSource to kill, harm, harass, or disturb no more than 40 tortoises. Once it was clear there were a lot more tortoises than that onsite, BLM estimated as many as 2,862 tortoises (including eggs) could be harmed by the project. Despite the 70-fold increase in potential “takes,” FWS merely required a few changes to the project’s tortoise relocation plan and issued a revised BiOp that allowed construction to proceed.
Reviewing a project’s impact on condors after a single death may seem fairly stringent by comparison to the Ivanpah tortoise example, but compared to a year in prison and a fine of $100,000 — the existing penalties under the Endangered Species Act for killing a condor — it’s definitely getting off easy. And the number of remaining tortoises in the Ivanpah Valley, as beleaguered as they are, is many times higher than the entire population of California condors worldwide.
This is an abrupt about-face for FWS, whose representatives were stating as recently as last year that issuing lethal take permits for the California condor to wind developers — or anyone — was out of the question. In a 2011 letter regarding Alta East sent to Jacqueline Kitchen of the Kern County Planning and Community Development Department — and included as a public comment in the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement — FWS’s Assistant Field Supervisor Carl Benz said that “we consider avoidance of mortality of California condors to be the only acceptable conservation strategy at this point in time.” That was the same point in time in which FWS was rebuking Kern County for downplaying the existence of condors on the site of a different proposed wind project. In a letter to the county’s Board of Supervisors, Diane Noda — Field Supervisor of the FWS Ventura office — warned the county that careless approval of enXco’s 350-megawatt Catalina wind project could land the county in hot water with regard to illegal take of condors, adding “We cannot envision a situation where we would permit the lethal take of California condors.”
The decision also marks a change from policy stated recently in the behemoth Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), an overarching Habitat Conservation Plan in the works for the California Desert, being prepared by FWS in cooperation with the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As recently as this past January, this is what the DRECP’s planning documents had to say about the idea that wind developers would be granted permission to “take” condors:
Based on best available information for the California condor, it is anticipated that no lethal take would be authorized for condor, but that the DRECP would promote conservation of the species.
So what prompted this volte-face on FWS’s part? It’s hard to tell without looking at the Biological Opinion, which has not so far been made publicly accessible. Stephanie Weagley told ReWire that a commitment by Terra-Gen to implement a condor warning system played a role in FWS writing the first-ever incidental take statement for California condors.
“These measures include… a system to detect condors flying in the vicinity of the project [and] curtailment of operation prior to any bird entering the area of the wind turbines,” Weagley told ReWire.
What this likely means, given the flaws inherent in standard detection tech such as bird radar, is that Terra-Gen has agreed to use a system that will detect the radio transmitters worn by many condors and slow their turbines when the alarm signals the birds’ approach.
Those transmitters are worn by many condors. They are not worn by every condor. A double-digit percentage of condors in California may be without transmitters, and those with them may stop signaling due to equipment failure. “Transmitters often have failed batteries,” Sophie Osborn points out. “They fall off. It’s a hell of a lot of work to capture condors to attach new transmitters, especially if the condors in question aren’t habituated to food subsidies. It can take weeks or months to recapture a condor whose transmitter has failed, or to capture a fledgling that’s never had one attached. It takes a big commitment of people on the ground to do the work.”
Condors’ social behavior may offer some level of “herd immunity” to windmill strikes in that radio-silent condors will often be accompanying those with transmitters. But that’s not by any means a certainty. Eventually, Terra-Gen will have to find some other way of detecting condors, and no reliable way other than constant live observation really exists.
FWS’s Stephanie Weagley points out that this reality is in part what drove the Alta East BiOp’s findings. “Because the detection system is not fool-proof,” said Weagley, “the Service’s biological opinion on the proposed action anticipates the lethal take of a single condor over the 30 year life of the project.”
If condors do move into the area in increasing numbers, that poses another problem with mitigation through detection. Wind turbine operators are in business to sell power. If they’re obliged to cut their output drastically every time a condor flies by, and if condors start flying by more than a few days a year, that cuts into profits, and into investors’ income, and into the creditworthiness of the operator. The temptation to err on the side of threat to condors will grow with the local condor population.
And that threat may involve a single condor only rarely. Condors are intensely social animals — one biologist has called them “primates with feathers.” The birds tend to gather in huge flocks at a carcass, and they can assemble those huge flocks quickly, as shown in these camera trap images caught just a few moments apart:
The RSPB is making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the wind power industry despite the turbines killing millions of birds each year
In a previous partnership with Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE), which invests in wind and other renewable energy, the RSPB admits to having made £1 million over ten years.
The charity claims that windfarms play an important role in the battle against climate change, which ‘poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife’, and that wind turbines caused only ‘significant detrimental effects’ when poorly sited.
But critics argue there is no such thing as a well-sited windfarm and that the charity has been taken over by green zealots.
Conservationist Mark Duchamp, whose international charity Save The Eagles monitors bird deaths caused by wind farms, said: ‘The fact that such an organisation [the RSPB] is not taking this problem seriously is scandalous.
‘They are supposed to protect birds. Instead they are advocating on behalf of an industry which kills birds. What could be more wrong and absurd than that?’
Dr John Etherington, former reader in ecology at the University of Wales and author of The Wind Farm Scam, said: ‘It seems to me that for some time now a green faction has penetrated a whole range of bodies and that the RSPB is one of them. ‘For an organisation that supposedly protects birds to team up with an industry that kills birds on the basis of unverifiable predictive models about climate change is just bizarre.