One dead buzzard is already too many: no wind turbines on and around the Veluwe

Bird of prey expert Rob Bijls-ma almost laughed when he heard that Gelderland has decided not to build any wind turbines on and around the Veluwe for the time being to prevent honeybees crashing into them. “This is slapstick. Such a decision is only good for keeping civil servants in work. What hypocrisy. I am against wind turbines anyway, because they contribute to people using more and more energy. Humans are an unimaginable eater, and as long nothing changes, these kinds of measures are dead ends.

This is slapstick. Such a decision is only good for keeping civil servants in work. What hypocrisy

Robert Bijlsma raptor expert

The province is forced to refrain from building wind turbines within one kilometer around the Veluwe, and only very limited in a zone of up to 8 kilometers outside the largest connected European protected nature reserve in the Netherlands. “In this way, we prevent the Veluwe nature from further deteriorating.”

In addition to the nature reserve as a whole, Gelderland also has a special duty to preserve the honey buzzard, a type of buzzard that breeds on the Veluwe. “Approximately 36 buzzards die naturally every year. We have to prove that by installing wind turbines we don’t add more than 1 per cent to that mortality,” says a provincial spokesman. This means that every honey buzzard that dies after a collision with a wind turbine’s wings, is one too many according to European nature regulations. According to the spokesman, Gelderland wanted to face a “painful dilemma”. “We are dealing with a legal reality. Any plan for a wind farm ends up with the State Council.”

Stationary rotor blades

Gelderland had different plans for turbine parks to deliver 20 percent of the national ambition for sustainably produced energy. It has not been reached now. So the plans for turbine parks along motorways, including at Ede and Barneveld, have been cancelled. According to the province, the fact that wind farms are also undesirable in the zone outside the Veluwe is due to the fact that honeybees look for food relatively far away, up to thirty kilometres. However, there is still space in the area around the Veluwe for two wind farms whose rotor blades will be stationary in July and August, when the honey bee is active.

About 300 to 400 honey buzzards breed in the Netherlands. The species occurs in almost all of Europe, and is not threatened on a global scale. According to Bijlsma, the honey bee is doing very poorly in the Veluwe. “No breeding pair has raised young in the past two years.” Bijlsma says that the number of wasps, the raptor’s main food, is rapidly decreasing as a possible reason. “Because of pesticides in agriculture.”

We believe that wind energy is only truly green if it is not at the expense of vulnerable nature

Bird protection in the Netherlands

Vogelbescherming Nederland speaks of a good decision. “We only consider wind energy truly green if it is not at the expense of vulnerable nature.” There are many circumstances that make things not go well here with the buzzard. “Damage from a windmill is still happy there.” Studies are ongoing into the effect of detecting honey buzzards via cameras. “It’s difficult, the honey buzzard looks a lot like the buzzard,” Gelderland’s spokesman said. An experiment is also underway in Groningen’s Eemshaven to paint the rotor blades of wind turbines black.

also readWind turbines a good idea, but definitely not here

Bird of prey expert Bijlsma wonders where the wind turbines that may not be built on the Veluwe will be built later. “Aren’t they suddenly doing damage to the environment there?” He also points out that it cannot be proven to what extent deaths among honey buzzards due to wind turbine blades add anything to the natural mortality. “Perhaps birds die that would otherwise have been caught by the hawk or eagle owl. And don’t forget that one buzzard’s death can be another buzzard’s blessing.”

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