RSPB warning as wind turbines kill sea eagles

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The Independent Online

Sea eagles, among Europe's most magnificent birds, are being killed by the turbines of a Norwegian wind farm, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said.

The discovery of four dead eagles on Smola, an island with 68 turbines six miles off north-west Norway, and failure of almost 30 others to return to nests on the island, have increased concerns that wind farms in Britain could kill wild birds, the RSPB said.

Conservationists fear the effect on eagles and other soaring birds of the 234-turbine windfarm proposed for Lewis in the Western Isles. Sea eagles, driven to extinction in Britain nearly a century ago, are beginning to thrive in the Western Isles, thanks to a 30-year reintroduction project. Also known as the white-tailed eagle, it is Europe's largest eagle and breeds in significant numbers on Smola. The Smola farm was built between 2001 and 2005, and the RSPB said Norway's government had ignored warnings of the danger to sea eagles.

Two of the dead birds had been sliced in two. Much of the wind farm is rarely visited and it is possible other deaths had not been detected, the RSPB said. The effect of the wind farm on breeding numbers is uncertain but is being monitored by conservationists.

Stuart Housden, the director of RSPB Scotland, said: "We are campaigning hard against the proposed wind farm for the north Lewis peatlands partly because of the great danger it poses to eagles. This environmentally sensitive site is protected under European law, and a large wind farm could have catastrophic implications for a wide variety of bird species, including our native eagles."

A spokeswoman for the British Wind Energy Association, which represents wind farm developers and operators, said: "We have an excellent and long history of working closely with stakeholders such as the RSPB to ensure our projects are as good as we can make them. We have an excellent record.''