Wind Farms in Cádiz Pose Grave Threat to Bat Populations Study Finds

The Death of the Female Bearded Vulture Highlights Wind Energy’s Impact on Spanish Biodiversity

Tragic Incident in Maestrazgo

The death last week of the female bearded vulture Masía, mutilated by the blades of a wind turbine in the Maestrazgo of Teruel, has highlighted the uncontrolled expansion of wind energy’s impact on biodiversity in Spain.

Technicians from the Fundación para la Conservación del Quebrantahuesos and nature protection agents from the Government of Aragón have found the mutilated carcass of the female bearded vulture 'Masía.'
Technicians from the Fundación para la Conservación del Quebrantahuesos and nature protection agents from the Government of Aragón have found the mutilated carcass of the female bearded vulture ‘Masía.’
Warnings from Nature Protection Foundations

Four nature protection foundations (Fundación Global Nature, Fundación Naturaleza y Hombre, Fundación Oso Pardo, and Fundación para la Conservación del Quebrantahuesos) are warning about the massive wildlife mortality in wind farms, a problem of which only the tip of the iceberg is detected.

Staggering Mortality Figures

Nearly 9,000 birds were found dead after colliding with wind turbines in just three years (2020-2021-2022), according to figures provided by the autonomous communities in response to a public information request. However, these figures are incomplete: in addition to the difficulty of finding the carcasses, some of the autonomous communities with the highest installed wind power capacity (such as Andalucía and Castilla y León) do not have complete records or did not provide their data.

Wind Farms in Cádiz Pose Grave Threat to Bat Populations Study Finds
Wind Farms in Cádiz Pose Grave Threat to Bat Populations
Impact of Wind Farm Expansion

The impact is increasing due to the considerable expansion of wind farms in Spain, many of which are located in areas of high natural value and even with plans to be installed in territories protected by the Natura 2000 Network, as proposed in the Maestrazgo of Teruel. “This could substantially and dramatically increase the number of birds killed in the coming years,” warn the four entities.

Complying with Natural Space Protection

In light of this situation, the foundations are calling for an explicit ban on the installation of wind farms in areas of high environmental value. “This is essentially strict compliance with the protection measures that already exist for protected natural spaces (ENP), whether terrestrial or marine, as outlined in various regional and national regulations, including those that are part of the Natura 2000 Network or are in the process of being designated, as well as their areas of influence,” they state.

Calls for Preventive Measures

They also request that radar and preventive measures, which can significantly reduce bird mortality, be included in the conditions of exploitation licences.

The Larger Problem

This problem is much greater than what is recognised in the incomplete official figures. According to estimates from various studies endorsed by the scientific community, the number of birds killed by this cause ranges between 1,355,711 and 2,109,400 per year, considering the installed wind power capacity in 2021 (which is now substantially higher).

A Need for Balance
Forestalia wind turbines
“Wind energy is necessary and essential for transitioning to renewable sources. However, its current development represents an unmanageable impact on the natural and animal diversity around us. This is even more so when preventive technology exists that could extraordinarily mitigate this severe damage to Spanish biodiversity,” explain the foundations.
Broader Conservation Efforts

For these four foundations, those forming part of the Natura 2000 Network are not the only spaces that should be preserved from the installation of new wind farms: areas protected by international agreements signed by Spain, wetlands listed in the National Wetlands Inventory, habitats that deserve to be preserved, critical areas identified in the Recovery and Conservation Plans for endangered species, and zones with potential barrier effects on marine migratory corridors should also be protected.

This article has been translated from the original Spanish version here: https://fundacionosopardo.org/cuatro-fundaciones-de-proteccion-de-la-naturaleza-reclaman-la-prohibicion-de-parques-eolicos-en-espacios-de-alto-valor-ambiental/

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