Morrisons, one of three retailers proposing sites around the town, wants to build a store on the local football club ground. To gain permission it has offered to provide a replacement ground at nearby Bodieve. But the possibility that dormice, a European Protected Species, are inhabiting that site has led planning officers to recommend the council refuse permission.
The local planning officer said the football club development should be refused as “there is a reasonable likelihood of dormice being present”.
Although no dormice have been found, they have been spotted 2km away. The local planning committee meets to rule on Morrisons’ application on Thursday.
Stephen Frankel, a spokesman for campaign group Love Wadebridge, said: “These companies are very powerful. They want to ignore us, but it seems they cannot ignore our dormice.”
Morrisons said it had commissioned a local ecologist to carry out a dormouse survey. It said it had asked Cornwall Council to defer its decision on its planning application until the survey had been completed.
A spokesperson said: “At this stage, no evidence has been produced to show there is a dormouse presence on the site. However, our scheme, should it be granted consent, would provide for a significant amount of new dormouse habitat.”
AK) Might be an idea to search for dormice wherever a wind ?farm? is threatened ?
It is strange, but a fact, that discovery of resident dormice will more likely prevent a wind ?farm? than opposition from local people ! So ? look for the mighty doormouse !
We lived in the hills of Radnorshire and dormice nested in our garden stone wall for years. We could watch them through our French window as they darted in and out of the wall just a few feet away. This was mainly because we left our immediate surroundings undisturbed as we preferred to let it remain as wild as possible. So, no whirring machines, weeding or similar activities. This meant that our little patch of wilderness was treated as a last resort by some of the shyest birds (ravens) and other creatures. I would not have missed the experience for the world.
Courtesy of Sarah Butler of The Telegraph
But scare tactics won’t work here. The costs of disposing of nuclear waste are also enormous. And nobody likes the moonscapes left behind by coal mining.
People are beginning to have second thoughts. The eastern state of Saxony has already downscaled its expansion plans. And the state of Thuringia to its west doesn’t want any wind turbines located in its forests.
Overall, however, the ranks of fearless politicians whose goal is to build an environmental utopia in Germany remain by and large unbroken.
Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party who serves as environment minister for the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, sees himself as an agent in the “undertaking of the century.” To underline his determination, he even calls himself the “Minister for the Energiewende.” Today, we are building the infrastructure that will ensure that energy is “as good as free for our children,” he says.
It’s hard to see exactly what he bases his calculation on. Consumers are currently paying more and more for power, while others are making a killing. Members of community-owned wind farms are being tempted with returns of between 6 and 9 percent. These profits are fed primarily by subsidies that have previously been hijacked from citizens.
Farmers are also making good money on the shift to wind power. Desirable locations for wind turbines can bring in more than €50,000 ($65,000) a year in rent in Bavaria. With prices like that, who wouldn’t want to help promote the cause of clean energy?
Baron Götz von Berlichingen, from the village of Jagsthausen in Baden-Württemberg, is a direct descendant of the knight celebrated by Goethe. Together with the power company EnBW, he is building 11 wind farms on his property. Used for farming, the land generated at the most €700 per hectare (2.5 acres) — a fraction of what it earns as a site for wind turbines.
According to opponents of wind power, that’s why permits to build wind farms are being handed out like there’s no tomorrow. They complain about “brainwashed climate apostles,” “traitors of the countryside” and “greedy power gamblers” who are prepared to sacrifice every last inch of the country to the Energiewende.
Sacrificing the Forests
They are right in claiming that growth is rampant. The German government wants to have renewable sources supply 35 percent of Germany’s energy by 2020. And, in their excessive zeal, the federal states have already designated enough land for green infrastructure capable of lifting this figure to 80 percent within the same period.
Instead of banishing the noise-makers to industrial wastelands or erecting them along freeways, they are scattering them across graceful mountain landscapes and areas full of lakes.
These plans have admittedly not been properly thought through. But it is the large-scale attack on forests that wind-turbine opponents find the most appalling. The Nordic pine forests, which formed the magical, emotion-filled realm of the German Romantics, as well as the homes of the ash and the oak, are all threatened by the relaxing of the laws.
From the Odenwald mountain range stretching across southwest Germany to the birch forests of Mecklenburg in the northeast, giant trucks are pushing their way into the woodlands. Johannes Remmel, a member of the Green Party who serves as environment minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has announced that he would like to put up around 2,000 wind turbines in the region’s forests. The state of Hesse also wants to cut down thousands of hectares of trees.
Some pioneering projects are already underway, such as that in Ellern, a small town in the low mountain range of Hunsrück in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Ellern has recently become home to a record-breaking wind turbine some 200 meters tall, or far above the treetops.
Semi-trailers pulled nacelles, the enormous housings for wind turbine engines, and transformer stations up the narrow forest roads. A 1,000-ton crane made its way up the slippery slopes to the peak; trees were felled at the side of the road to make way for it. At the top, the forest was cleared to nothing with chainsaws so that concrete foundations could be laid for the turbines.
No one knows what the impact of such activities will be on the flora and fauna. The offensive into this mountain range took place “without checks,” protests Germany’s Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU). In any case, the group says, the idea of generating wind power in the forest should be “rejected on principle.”
Lies and Deception
The decision to not build offshore wind farms turns out to be misguided not just for environmental reasons, but also for economic ones. At sea, turbines can achieve 4,500 full-load hours a year. By the coast, the figure is 3,000. Inland, a site is considered good if it produces 1,800 hours.
The turbines currently being built across Germany, from the Ore Mountains in the east to Lake Constance in the west, are weaker still. Statistics show that the turbines in the south of the country are generating significantly less power than was predicted. The biggest wind farm in Baden-Württemberg, at a height of 850 meters in the Northern Black Forest, has been a flop for years.
“It’s all an enormous swindle,” says Besigheim-based auditor Walter Müller, 65, whose former job involved calculating the value of bankrupt East German factories. Today, he takes the same hard-as-nails approach to examining the books of wind farm companies.
His verdict? A fabric of lies and deception. The experts commissioned by the operators of the wind farms sometimes describe areas with weak breezes as top “wind-intensive” sites to make them appear more attractive, he says. “Small-scale investors are promised profits to attract them into closed funds for wind farms that do not generate enough energy,” he says. “Ultimately, all the capital is eaten up.”
The wind turbines, whose job it was to protect the environment, are not running smoothly. Germany’s biggest infrastructure project is a mess. Everyone wants to get away from nuclear. But at what price?
Even Winfried Kretschmann, the governor of Baden-Württemberg and the first Green Party member to govern any German state, is sounding contrite. But his resolve remains as firm as ever: “There is simply no alternative to disfiguring the countryside like this,” he insists.
The question is: Is he right?
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.
Plans to expand wind energy into the most scenic parts of Germany are fueling increasing opposition across the country.
Anti-wind campaigners are angry that areas including the forests made famous by the tales of the brothers Grimm are among the targets for new turbines.
For the first time they have formed a national opposition group to thwart the expansion.
They say the growth of wind will damage forests and tourism across the country.
There is nobody who stands up and tells the truth, we have to stop now”
Markus Storck Bicycle designer
Germany has embarked on a massive expansion of renewable energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Chancellor Merkel’s government decided to phase out atomic plants more rapidly and instead increased the opportunities for green power.
WSith guaranteed prices for 20 years thanks to feed-in tariffs enshrined in law, solar farms, biogas plants and wind parks have boomed. There are now 1.3 million small co-operatives and households supplying renewable energy to the grid.
This Energiewende or energy transformation has been remarkably successful, with 22% of Germany’s electricity being generated by renewables in 2012. Wind has played a major part in this change, and the public has been generally supportive, despite rapidly increasing energy bills.
To date, a majority of the 23,000 wind turbines in the country have been built in the flatter north and eastern parts of the country. But now the focus of expansion is on the picture postcard areas of dark forest and lush green hills in the central and southern areas of Germany.
One such region is the Rheinhardswald in the northern part of the state of Hesse. This is the home of the magical tales of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and others, made famous in the books of the brothers Grimm.
This quiet, scenic place is a magnet for tourists from all over the world.
But now there are also plans to build up to 200 turbines on the surrounding hills.
Ann-Kathrin Blankenberg is a PhD student and a vocal opponent of the plans.
“It is not because this is the area of Sleeping Beauty,” she says.
“I want the green movement, I want green technology, I don’t want nuclear power – but they should be made in the right way and not by destroying the forest.
“We have here special, old growth forest and some species just live in this area and are in danger because of the turbines.”
The campaigners argue that putting wind turbines in this area makes no sense. The wind speeds are low and the area is home to some extremely rare birds including the endangered black stork.
Across Germany, the plans for expansion have pitted green against green – the potential damage to natural resources from the building of turbines seems to be the biggest concern for opponents.
About 170 regional groups opposed to wind energy have now formed a national organisation called Vernunftkraft, to fight the expansion of turbines. They are trying to get enough signatures on a petition to force the German parliament to debate the future direction of the Energiewende, especially the subsidies for wind energy.
Some of those involved believe that unlike solar power, which has been adopted by many individual householders, wind parks are essentially speculative investments with electricity consumers guaranteeing a return for developers.
At his sleek workshop near Wiesbaden, several hundred kilometres away from the fairytale forests of Sleeping Beauty, Markus Storck designs some of the greenest machines on the planet.
His crafted, lightweight bicycles have won dozens of awards. His products sell all over the world and he has also experimented with electric bikes.
But he is now vehemently opposing the expansion of wind energy in Germany, and is highly critical of developers and the subsidies that bolster their projects.
“They are getting people to invest by telling them they can make money with it, but people will also lose like with the internet. I would call it a wind bubble,” he says.
“There is nobody who stands up and tells the truth, we have to stop now.”
While the protestors are becoming more organised, they still represent a relatively small section of society.
Opinion polls continue to show widespread political support for the energy transformation and for wind energy as well. There is a common belief that opponents of wind are “nimbys” – short for “Not In My Back Yard” – who only complain because the turbines are coming to their local areas.
Hans-Josef Fell is the Green MP who is sometimes called the father of the feed-in tariff. In 2000, he wrote the draft of the Renewable Energy Source Act that kick-started the energy transformation. He characterises the opponents of wind as small, aggressive groups.
“They don’t bother to have an honest discussion, because they want to prohibit a wind turbine in their backyard,” he says.
“They don’t recognise that by doing so, other people have to deal with the consequences of an opencast coal mine or radioactive waste storage.”
There are other issues associated with the energy transformation that are troubling environmentalists. The shutdown of nuclear reactors in the south of the country means there is a need to transfer energy from the north. New, high voltage cables are needed to link onshore and offshore wind parks to consumers and industry.
But critics are worried that these new cables will not only damage the landscape, they could also be a risk to public health.
Going undergroundThere are demands from the Green party that the wires be buried where possible. But many landowners are unwilling to, quite literally, give ground for the projects.
In the central university town of Goettingen, local Green party councillor Harald Wiedemann has concerns about how these plans will work.
“The problem is, on the one hand the cost, and on the other is the electro-magnetic field – no one has said they will have 1,000kw cables here but in future it is possible”, he says.
“We have to build these cables really far away from towns – it is too expensive to put them underground for such a long distance, no-one can pay.”
Whether people are objecting to electricity pylons or the building of wind turbines, much of the opposition appears to be practical and not grounded in climate change scepticism. A majority accept that rising temperatures and the need for secure, sustainable energy sources means the energy transition must go ahead.
Back at the home of Sleeping Beauty, the opponents of turbines insist that they are open to compromise.
Guenter Koseck, the owner of the castle at Sababurg that is reputed to have been the home of the slumbering princess, says this is not an ideological fight.
“This area is owned by the state, so if we get turbines here only because it is the easiest place to locate them and not because it is the most efficient area, then I would object,” he says.
“We want to move to green energy, and it has to be located somewhere. Without any question I would accept it here, as long as the arguments are right.”
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.
June 10, 20133 – Outrage stemming from Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation’s (Leedco) premature drilling has enraged international watchdog agencies; and, in doing so, hardened their resolve to NOT allow the Great Lakes to be doomed to become another “green energy basket case,”
“Whose money is being spent on a project that has not even been approved and why is drilling of Lake Erie’s lake bottom being permitted at this stage?” asserted Suzanne Albright, principle of U.S.based Great Lakes Wind Truth.
Plans are underway by LEEDCo and Freshwater Wind LLC to construct 5 massive industrial wind turbines (IWT) offshore of Cuyahoga County, Ohio in Lake Erie. This would, if approved, be the 1st wind turbine project in any fresh water lake in the U.S.
LEEDCo’s plan doesn’t resonate well with international watchdog groups committed to protecting North America, including the pristine waters of the Great Lakes, from being blanketed with 30-40 story high industrial oil-filled metal turbines destined to fail, leak, rust out and eventually become abandoned, primarily at the expense of rate and tax payers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
Open Submission: Industrial Wind Turbines can Harm Animals
Submitted by Carmen Krogh, BSc Pharm
May 16, 2013
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
May 16, 2013
Dear Minister Aglukkaq,
Re: Wind Turbines Can Harm Animals
On November 21, 2012, I provided a submission to Health Canada , on request, and on behalf of the Brindley family who left their farm in Ontario and now farm in Saskatchewan . Documentation regarding that submission had been verified by the family. The file name of the submission was: “Brindley_Health Canada Submission Nov 21 2012 FINAL”.
The Brindley submission documented harm to their cattle and included photos of deformities entitled section “3.2 Swollen joints and deformities.”
The purpose of this submission is to inform Health Canada that documentation regarding deformities to horses is available.
I declare no conflicts and have received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this submission.
Indications are that industrial wind energy facilities may cause harm to cattle and horses. It is possible this risk could extend to other animals.
There is an opportunity for Health Canada to invoke the precautionary principle and to consider the risk to animal life.
Reports of risks to humans including children have been provided in previous submissions and through submission of peer reviewed articles and other information.
Health Canada should ensure that appropriate research determines guidelines that avoid risk of harm to humans and animal life. This research should be conducted before continuing to support industrial wind energy development.
Carmen Krogh, BScPharm
Ontario , Canada
Cell 613 312 9663
…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: