The RSPB is making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the wind power industry – despite the turbines killing millions of birds every year.
Golden eagles, hen harriers, Corn Buntings and other rare and threatened species are especially at risk, conservationists say.
Yet in its latest ‘partnership deal ‘, the bird charity receives 60 for every member who signs up to a dual-fuel account with windfarm developer Ecotricity.
It also receives 40 each time a customer opens an account with Triodos Bank, which finances renewable industry projects including wind turbines.
In a previous partnership with Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE), which invests in wind and other renewable energy, the RSPB admits to having made 1 million over ten years.
The charity claims that windfarms play an important role in the battle against climate change, which ‘poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife ‘, and that wind turbines caused only ‘significant detrimental effects ‘ when poorly sited.
But critics argue there is no such thing as a well-sited windfarm and that the charity has been taken over by green zealots.
Conservationist Mark Duchamp, whose international charity Save The Eagles monitors bird deaths caused by wind farms, said: ‘The fact that such an organisation [the RSPB] is not taking this problem seriously is scandalous.’
‘They are supposed to protect birds. Instead they are advocating on behalf of an industry which kills birds. What could be more wrong and absurd than that? ‘
Dr John Etherington, former reader in ecology at the University of Wales and author of The Wind Farm Scam, said: ‘It seems to me that for some time now a green faction has penetrated a whole range of bodies and that the RSPB is one of them.’
Some members have complained that the RSPB isn ‘t nearly as active as it ought to be in fighting turbine applications – even in sites of ornithological value.
‘Instead of giving the turbine people hell, they usually end up giving them the green light, ‘ said Peter Shrubb, an RSPB member of 30 years, who is particularly appalled by the organisation ‘s plans to erect a 330ft turbine at its own headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
As an example of the danger, two hen harriers were killed by turbine blades in April last year at the Griffin windfarm at Aberfeldy in Scotland, run by the RSPB ‘s former partner SSE.
The charity waited eight months to announce the news but made no criticism of its former partner. Instead it said: ‘It is important to remember that climate change still poses one of the biggest threats to birds and other wildlife. ‘
BUT according to research by the ornithological society SEO/Birdlife, each wind turbine kills between 110 and 330 birds a year. This means that worldwide, wind turbines kill at least 22 million birds a year.
The RSPB has disputed these figures, insisting: ‘Our own research suggests that a well-located wind farm is unlikely to be causing birds any harm.’
A spokesman for Ecotricity said that at one of its test sites near the Bristol Channel, the turbines had killed no more than four birds in five years. Conservationists claim the wind industry has a vested interest in covering up the true extent of bird deaths.
Wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand recently wrote that the industry has known since the early Eighties that ‘propeller-style turbines ‘ could never be safe for birds of prey.
Mr Wiegand added: ‘With exposed blade tips spinning in open space at up to 200mph, it was impossible. Wind developers also knew they would have a public-relations nightmare if people ever learned how many eagles are actually being cut in half.
‘To hide this awful truth, strict windfarm operating guidelines were established – including high security, gag orders in leases and other agreements, and the prevention of accurate, meaningful mortality studies. ‘