Environment, June 27th, 2013
This appeared here, and I wish to thank James for allowing me to publish his work.
A few days ago in this space I posted a picture of a gull which had been decapitated by a wind turbine located – with delicious irony – in the Brighton constituency of Green MP Caroline Lucas. What was interesting, though not exactly surprising, was the defensiveness of the usual troll suspects who haunt the comments section below.
Some of them tried the "since when have you ever cared about wildlife, Delingpole?" gambit. To which I would have replied – if I talked to trolls, which I generally don't, on principle – "What evidence can you offer that I don't?"
Others tried the "well it was only a seagull. Seagulls are a bloody menace in Brighton". To which I now reply: "All right then. How about this White Throated Needletail? This one rare enough for you – or are you not going to be satisfied till wind turbines have taken out the last Asian crested ibis or Kakapo parrot?"
If it weren't so sad and unnecessary it would almost be funny:
“It is tragic. More than 80 people had already arrived on the island and others were coming from all over the country. But it just flew into the turbine. It was killed instantly."
You can imagine it in a Mike Leigh movie: the twitchers with their anoraks and their long lenses; the cries of jubilation at the sighting; then, "thud".
I'm afraid it just makes me angry and upset, though. When I researched this piece on the RSPB's shameless financial relationship with the wind industry I spoke to several bird watchers who were absolutely devastated by the damage they'd witnessed being wrought on often rare birds by wind turbines.
Another disappointed member is Terry O’Connor, a retired panel-beater, who for 30 years has watched migratory birds such as Brent geese and Bewick’s swans near his home in Silloth, Cumbria.
When Npower applied to build four wind turbines in the middle of the route, birdwatchers begged the local RSPB area representative for help.
At first the RSPB was supportive and planners rejected the application. But when the developer appealed, the RSPB mysteriously withdrew its objection and the turbines were built.
Mr. O’Connor said: ‘The developers came up with some cock-and-bull plan about how they were going to pay farmers to feed the geese to lure them away from the turbines.
'But to anyone who knows anything about bird behaviour this is a nonsense.
'Now the turbines are up and of course the birds haven’t changed their flightpath. Locally we all feel utterly betrayed by the RSPB. They should never have let this happen.’
And in April last year, two Hen Harriers (which the RSPB works so aggressively to save elsewhere through vigorous prosecutions of gamekeepers on grouse moors) were killed at the Griffin windfarm at Aberfeldy in Scotland, run by the RSPB’s former business partner SSE.
The charity waited eight months to announce the news but made no criticism of its former partner. Instead it said: ‘It is important to remember that climate change still poses one of the biggest threats to birds and other wildlife.’
Perhaps if this goes on the RSPB should consider a name change. Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds.