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Israeli Environmentalists Oppose Wind-Power Plan

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is opposing plans to establish wind turbine farms out of concern that they devices could cause a significant number of birds and bats to die.

The National Planning and Building Council is preparing to publish a policy paper soon drafted by the Interior Ministry that calls for the construction of stations that produce 800 megawatts of electricity, which would make wind power account for three percent of Israel’s electricity use by 2022. To go forward with the initiative, the council is expected to support a proposal to get a national design plan ready that directs where these stations would be built.

According to Haaretz, the policy paper asserts “that most electricity to be produced by wind power would come from large turbine farms to be established in open spaces. Each turbine would be between 18 and 100 meters in height.”

There are currently plans underway to establish large turbine stations on the Golan Heights and the Gilboa region. A small wind farm is already operational on the Golan Heights.

Ecologists associated with the Nature and Parks Authority are critical of the wind stations, claiming the devices will have a negative impact on birds and bats. They are urging the government to wait until new types of wind turbines are developed that are less likely to harm wildlife.

The opposition is based in part on published reports of bird and bat casualties in other countries where wind stations operate. Research from the United States indicates that 78 percent of birds who died around turbines belong to protected species. In Spain, dozens of eagles die each year in areas where wind stations operate.

Nature and Parks Authority director Shaul Goldstein told Haaretz adds: “We are committed to the cabinet’s decision to generate power from wind energy, but also to protect birds’ migration course. This is why we believe that, if a wind turbine farm is set up, it must be done gradually, while monitoring the effect on birds. It also requires gathering accurate information about the height of the migrating birds’ flight.”

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