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Env. minister urges review of Hokkaido wind farm project over bird strike fears

A white-tailed eagle, center, spreads its wings while Steller's sea eagles, right and left, rest on drift ice in Rausu, Hokkaido, on Feb. 27, 2018. (Mainichi/Naotsune Umemura)
(Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The environment minister submitted a statement on Feb. 18 urging a drastic review of a plan to replace turbines at a wind farm in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido due to concerns over bird strikes against endangered eagles and other species.

Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada's statement was directed at Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko over an Environmental Impact Assessment of the project at the Eurus Soya Misaki Wind Farm in Cape Soya in the city of Wakkanai.

Tokyo-based Eurus Energy Holdings Corp. began operation of the wind farm in 2005. It currently has 57 turbines with a total power output of 57,000 kilowatts. All existing turbines are to be removed and replaced with 15 turbines in the 4,000-kilowatt class.

Endangered white-tailed eagles and Steller's sea eagles come to Cape Soya to spend winter, according to the statement. The turbines may also be standing in the middle of the migration path of swans and other birds. A total of 10 white-tailed eagles were found dead near the turbines from 2007 to 2016, apparently killed in collisions with the blades, according to the Environment Ministry.

While the statement claims that the turbines "contribute to the widespread use of renewable energy and are desirable as a measure against global warming," it also points out the fear that the replaced machinery will continue to have a grave impact on birds. The demands include not installing new turbines in places where white-tailed eagles and other birds tend to fly as well as adopting measures such as identifying migration paths and predicting the effect of the project.

The environment minister also submitted a written opinion in August calling for a drastic review of a wind farm project in the northeastern prefecture of Iwate by Eurus Energy Holdings due to concerns over bird strikes involving endangered golden eagles.

(Japanese original by Ai Oba, Science & Environment News Department)

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