The RSPB: Killing Birds To Save The Planet

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds (RSPB) has scored another triumph in its ongoing mission to eradicate Britain’s avian species.

A wind farm in Scotland, which the RSPB was instrumental in easing through the planning process ten years ago has successfully destroyed all but one of the forty breeding pairs of golden plover in the region.

Though the golden plover isn’t an endangered species it’s definitely a bird. And birds are what the RSPB – originally known as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – was established to protect.

Founded in 1889, the RSPB has grown into Europe’s largest wildlife charity, with over a million members. Somewhere on the way, however, it appears to have decided that the “birds” in its name no longer have much relevance to its campaigning causes. In fact it appears increasingly to view their destruction with equanimity.

The latest example of this can be found at Gordonbush wind farm in remote and, till recently, unspoilt East Sutherland, in the far north-east of Scotland. Its pristine, upland peat bogs are the ideal habitat for golden plover. Which is why, when Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) proposed to build a wind farm there then years ago, the project was fiercely opposed by ornithologists and naturalists, including former chief scientist of the Nature Conservancy Derek Ratcliffe.

Much to their surprise however, the campaigners found that they had only lukewarm support from the organisation which they had imagined would be their natural ally: the RSPB.

Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that, at the time, the RSPB was involved in a business partnership with SSE, from which it benefited to the tune of £1 million over ten years.

Bizarrely, the RSPB had already made up its mind by then that climate change was such an important issue that supporting renewable energy was more important than stopping birds being sliced and diced by gigantic eco-crucifixes. So, rather than using its campaigning muscle to stop wind farms being built on the uplands where raptors and other rare and protected birds tend to congregate, it instead often found itself in the strange position of supporting wind projects – despite copious evidence from around the world of the millions of birds (and bats) killed by turbines each year.

Gordonbush wind farm was one such project. RSPB didn’t support it outright. But nor did it try to stop it. It simply raised concerns about the potential threat to local species including the golden plover. But rather than act on the threat, it proposed that this would be a good opportunity for the RSPB to monitor the effects of wind turbines on the golden plover population. With a view to achieving what it didn’t specify. But it was good enough for the planners who felt that environmental concerns had now been satisfied.

Well, now, the RSPB has completed its monitoring – so far unpublished on the internet, for reasons which may soon become obvious – and you’ll never guess what it has found.

Yep. Amazing but true: it turns out that golden plovers and wind turbines don’t mix at all. Since Gordonbush opened in 2006, the golden plover population has plummeted to almost zero. There is no likelihood whatsoever of the birds returning.

All this was predicted by local ornithologist Alan Vittery who had campaigned to stop the Gordonbush development for this very reason. “Those forty breeding pairs aren’t going to find new homes elsewhere because all the prime habitat has been occupied. So that’s it. Thanks to Gordonbush those golden plover have gone for good.”

Vittery, like many ornithologists before him, has resigned his membership of the RSPB in disgust.

“It’s lunacy. And the reason it’s happening is because there’s a wind farm gravy train which is making an awful lot of people an awful lot of money.”

This is why, he explains, so many of the organisations which should have opposed Gordonbrush – not just the RSPB but also Scottish Natural Heritage and the European Union Environmental Directorate either washed their hands of the affair or actively supported it.

Though I have written about this issue before here and here.

I never cease to be astounded by the corruption, dishonesty, stupidity, and zealotry surrounding the wind industry and of its useful idiots in the eco industry, such as the RSPB.

It is, indeed, about time that the RSPB lost both its royal charter and its charitable status. To this end, anyone who cares about wildlife, birds especially, ought to be lending their support to this campaign group (whose members include the cricket hero Sir Ian Botham), which argues that the RSPB has “sold its soul and become a giant fundraising machine where decisions are made not according to what is good for birds but what will keep the RSPB’s revenues.”

Still, it’s not bad news for everyone. Gordonbush wind farm – fans of scum-sucking, rent-seeking, faux-environmental, peat-bog-destroying, bird-and-bat-killing crony capitalism will be pleased to hear – is making lots and lots of money from the vast subsidies we must all pay, whether we like it or not, for the intermittent, overpriced “clean” energy it produces.

This year, according to research from the Renewable Energy Foundation, it will earn around £8.6 million in subsidies. Large chunks of this are the “constraint payments” it receives for turning the turbines off, either for safety reasons when it’s too windy or when there is a danger that its surges of unneeded power will overload the grid. Since June 2012 it has received £5.9 million in constraint payments for those moments where its turbines are sitting around doing nothing. Is it any wonder that an industry as morally bankrupt as this attracts so many cheating, lying scuzzballs?


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