Anti-wind groups and environmentalists often protest wind farms and developers, charging that the projects pose a serious threat to birds. So then why is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), a U.K.-based wildlife charity, seeking to build a wind turbine at its own headquarters?
According to the group, renewable energy is an essential tool in the fight against climate change, which poses the largest threat to the long-term survival of birds and wildlife. The RSPB has itself objected to wind farm proposals, but so long as proper due diligence is conducted and potential wildlife impacts mitigated, the group suggests developing wind power is a smart move.
The RSPB and British green energy company Ecotricity have submitted a planning application for a single wind turbine at the charity's headquarters, near Sandy in Bedfordshire. If the application is approved, the turbine could be installed from fall 2014 onwards and would measure 100 meters at its highest point. The turbine is predicted to produce the equivalent of up to two-thirds of the RSPB's total U.K. electricity needs.
"A wind turbine at our U.K. headquarters is the single biggest step we can take to reduce our carbon emissions and will make a significant contribution to the RSPB's carbon-reduction targets," comments Paul Forecast, a director of the RSPB.
Ecotricity and the RSPB say they have undertaken comprehensive environmental assessments and believe that the location satisfies all planning requirements, including landscape and ecological constraints, and is therefore an appropriate location for the wind turbine.
"We have been conducting assessments over the last 18 months on all aspects of the wind turbine proposal and how it could affect the surrounding area," Forecast continues. "These assessments analyzed potential impacts that include landscape and visual amenity, cultural heritage, ecology, ornithology, hydrology, noise, transport, access, and shadow flicker. Data has confirmed that there is unlikely to be any significant impact on local residents or wildlife.
"We hope that by installing a wind turbine at our U.K. headquarters, we will demonstrate to others that, with a thorough environmental assessment, the correct planning and location, renewable energy and a healthy, thriving environment can go hand in hand," he concludes.