Where eagles dare not fly


Waterloo looms as wind farms power town revolt
by: Graham Lloyd, Environment Editor From: The Australian
April 21, 2012 12:00AM

A DEAD wedge-tailed eagle, chicken eggs without yolks and a dysfunctional village with residents bursting to flee. This is the clean-energy revolution Waterloo-style, where the nation's biggest wind turbines have whipped up a storm of dissent.

Adelaide University has been drawn into a controversy that threatens to spin out of control after one of its masters students asked residents of Waterloo, 120km north of Adelaide, what they really thought about living near windmills and was knocked over in an avalanche of complaint.

Yesterday, a South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage officer collected the remains of a juvenile wedge-tailed eagle from the base of one of the Waterloo wind farm turbine towers. He said it would be X-rayed and examined to establish the cause of death.

Black Springs farmer Kym Dixon next to a dead wedge-tailed eagle, which was found 180m from wind turbines in the South Australian town of Waterloo. Picture: Vanessa Hunter Source: The Australian

It may help to explain why, according to one local ranger, three wedge-tailed eagle nesting areas identified before the turbines began to operate 18 months ago are no longer active.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources district manager Ian Falkenberg said initial observations of the eagle remains showed a punctured skull and major fractures of the right wing, including a significant break about three inches from the shoulder.

GPS readings showed the remains were located 180m from the base of the tower.

Mr Falkenberg said eagles in the mid-north of South Australia were in lower numbers than in other parts of the state and considered "vulnerable" at a regional assessment level.

He said prior to the wind turbines at Waterloo, there were three eagle territories but was not aware of any of those territories now being active.

According to wind farm operator TRUenergy, there are still active wedge-tailed eagle populations in the hills.

TRUenergy spokeswoman Sarah Stent said: "Eagle monitoring on site of resident population today shows no decrease in bird numbers."

TRUenergy acquired the Waterloo wind farm last year and has announced a $40 million expansion. It is also planning a wind farm development at Stony Gap. The company insists it has broad community support and certainly the strong backing of the SA government.

Waterloo has become a hotbed of concern among locals, many of whom claim to be suffering ill-effects from the wind turbine development.

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