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Green groups funded by big wind

The Mail on Sunday (not online) carries the news that several prominent Scottish environmental groups are sponsored by wind farm companies.

Environment group WWF Scotland admitted that it had received more than £22,500 in the past year from one of the UK's biggest energy firms, Scottish and Southern Energy.

It has apparently also been revealed that Friends of the Earth Scotland are supported by Scottish Power Renewables, while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland is also in the pay of big wind.

Amusing therefore to see this report issued jointly by the three organisations saying that fears over the reliability of wind power are overdone. Money talks, I guess.



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Reader Comments (61)

I wonder if any MSPs are in receipt of money from 'big green'.

Apr 29, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

IIRC, back in 2000, a story did the rounds that Scottish Labour party was funded by wind turbine manufacturers.

Apr 29, 2012 at 9:42 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong - faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it's to late.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune

Apr 29, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob L

Does anyone have info on where the Green Party have found money recently?

My wife and I received direct mail appeals to support our local Green candidate in the Thursday Council elections. Plus more delivered literature than I've seen before from them.

In our case it was not well targetted as, (declaration of interest), I'm a sitting Edinburgh Conservative councillor, who is delivering all material with the help of unpaid volunteers.

Apr 29, 2012 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterCameron Rose

This seems like a bit of a non-story . . .

Apr 29, 2012 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterScots Renewables

So political organisations funded by those who benefit directly from political decisions is a non story.

I wonder what the idiot renewable view would have been if heartland received money from the mythical big oil.....hysterics? I do wonder at the sight of secular religions corrupting people.

Apr 29, 2012 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Apr 29, 2012 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

nothing to see, eh, Scots R?...let's pass on by....

Apr 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

This does not come as a surprise to me, or many others who have argued against inappropriate wind and hydro-electric schemes in Scotland. SSE investment in WWF has paid dividends in terms of the pro wind coverage that Richard Dixon and others in WWF have generated in Scotland. There are also non-financial links; I know of one of SSE's Public Affairs employee who has close ties to the Green Party (he stood as the Green candidate in local elections a few years back). There is also a senior figure in Scottish Power Renewables, who worked for WWF for many years in the 1990s.

Apr 29, 2012 at 10:28 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

are you sure it's not baked beans providing the wind mate

Apr 29, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered Commenteragwnonsense

There was an episode of QI where Stephen Fry read out an emphatic statement from the RSPB saying, if I recall correctly, that no birds at all had been killed by wind turbines.

I remembered wondering at the time what the hell they were thinking, especially as it would be impossible to prove that none had been killed anyway.

Apr 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

This seems like a bit of a non-story . . .
Apr 29, 2012 at 9:59 PM Scots Renewables

Yeeesss.........completely unlike unproven small sums of cash which may, or may not, have found their way from energy companies to sceptic activist groups like Heartland - they require multiple headlines and endless anguished analysis in the Guardian of course.

BTW - how are your green website clients getting along? Business looking up at all?

Apr 29, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

The RSPB has 30 pieces of silver and a pile of dead birds

Apr 29, 2012 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I often wondered how the RSPB could ever have come out in favour of windmills when bird deaths were widely reported. Now we know.

Apr 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"This seems like a bit of a non-story . . ."
In denial are we SR? Three charities, who are paid by wind-interests, just happen to come up with a joint report extolling the virtues of wind-power.
And you see nothing worth reporting there?
Get a grip laddie and take a long hard look at yourself.

Apr 30, 2012 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

"RSPB study, which found that "wind farms are not bird blenders"

Reminds me of the story of school in Dorset which put a wind turbine on the roof, to demonstrate care for environment and all that. The head teacher had to come to school early to clear up the dead birds to minimise the distress to pupils.

RSPB was asked by the BBC to comment on that story too, I wonder if they remember.

Apr 30, 2012 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce of Newcastle

I often wondered how the RSPB could ever have come out in favour of windmills . . .

For about a decade, RSPB had a deal with Scottish & Southern whereby the former sold the latter's "green" electricity to members and supporters for commission. The scheme ran at much the same as Greenpeace's "Juice" deal with German nuclear giant RWE, developers of the North Hoyle off-shore subsidy farm. At the time, Matthew Spencer of the Greenpeace climate campaign enthused that:

'When we hear about ice caps melting and floods increasing, it's easy to think global warming is too big a problem to tackle. Juice offers hope by giving individuals a simple and effective way of doing their bit to fight climate change through their electricity bill.'

Yes, of course; the bigger the Greenpeace commission, the slower the icecaps melt. Have we a consensus on that? Again coincidentally, Greenpeace International
renewables director Corin Millais quit GP in June 2002 to head up the European Wind Energy Association.

In short, political corruption of the type 'is Grace reports is not new though I must stress that the fact that the only major proposal of the several put forward for the Isle of Lewis that RSPB bigwigs did not oppose was SSE's one for Pairc Estate is coincidental.

Scots Renewables suggests that all this is a "a bit of a non-story . . .". Well, he could be right at that though I'd remind him that News International's perversion of the course of justice was a "non story" for long enough.

Apr 30, 2012 at 12:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

For a long time I was puzled by the RSPB position on windmills. At one time they used to take the side of the birds - every bird every time. It was someone else's job to weigh other factors and decide if a new TV transmitter was more important than a pair of breeding falcons. The RSPB would side with the birds.

I thought they were perhaps trying to balance short term versus long term issues.

The truth is much simpler: they have been bought.

Apr 30, 2012 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes


WWF Scotland - Gross income £57,756,000.00
FOE Scotland - Gross income £547,994.00
RSPB Scotland - Gross income £122,519,000.00


GWPF - Gross income £158,008.00

Apr 30, 2012 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Breaking wind story.

Apr 30, 2012 at 1:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrewS

Perhaps Canadian birds and bats have not been trained in evasive measures to avoid avian Cuisinarts!

Apr 30, 2012 at 1:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

Just for once I'd agree with SR. Reprehensible though it is WWF and Friends of the Earth will go to any lengths to destroy the prosperity of ordinary people, that they should take money to do so is hardly surprising for the morally bankrupt gang of human haters we know them to be. The RSPB is a bed fellow of the environmental movement, and, of course, shares their malignant aims for the future of humanity. So why wouldn't they take money to further the aims of a bunch of quasi religious anti-human propogandists?

Apr 30, 2012 at 3:38 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate, with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

Returning at last after total distraction caused by the preparation of a pontification (?sermon, homily, etc) about something else I know nothing about. Now complete for the time being.

‘Once more into the breech, dear friends….’

1.Was the Mail article a neutral report, or did it express approbation or disapprobation?
2.Surely reports like this could be used to attack. Particularly if a flow of funds, preferably quantified, from Scottish and Southern Energy to any part o the wind farm industry could be demonstrated. Is that information out there?.
3.Thus equipped, can anyone think of, and wield, an appropriate polemical weapon?

Apr 30, 2012 at 3:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Windmill farms aren't bird blenders and statements about the lack of reliability of wind farm has been overstated. Both are true statements, regardless of the source.

Compare the metrics of bird deaths by wind turbines to bird deaths by other anthropogenic sources, then consider what the phrase "ecologically significant mortality rate" means in this context, and drawn your own conclusions. Secondly, look at the variability wind speeds at the surface versus 100-m. Our experience on the surface of the Earth tells us nothing about what is happening 100-m up. Who'd a thunk it?

On and the third truth is you and other skeptics use these arguments of bird blending and lack of reliability not because you've vetted them and know them to be true, but because they are so very, very convenient to your political arguments, an argument that relates to the disagreement over government subsidization of wind mill farms and is something that I completely agree with your criticisms of.

Is it really that hard to figure out that some things that the windmill proponents argue for are true (and I'm not a windmill proponent though you will all mistake me for one for calling BS on what I think are flakey arguments), and yet their fundamental premise can still be totally flawed? [I would say the fundamental premise is that government can mandate technology growth through end-user subsidization. Ask Obama how that Solyndra loan worked out.]

The sum of a series of bad arguments doesn't make a good argument a better one.

Apr 30, 2012 at 4:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

WWF Scotland - Gross income £57,756,000.00 ??

like wow...

A tenner for every Scottish person ? - I don't see that being voluntarily donated :-)

Kate Humble's English RSPB trousers £20 Million plus annually in direct contributions from gubmint and pays chuggers (charity street muggers / panhandlers) £100 cash for every punter who's dumb enough to sign up for a monthly bank direct debit to protect the birdies.

This rotten-ness is now an epidemic.

But £57 million? ... eargh! I need to go to the proverbial darkened room for a lie down.

Apr 30, 2012 at 7:27 AM | Registered Commentertomo

It's interesting to note that the joint report from Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF and RSPB entitled "Wind energy: Keeping the lights on" was written by "by energy" expert David Milborrow.

Who is "energy" expert David Milborrow you may ask?

Well he has been has been involved in the wind energy industry since 1978 and has been a director of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA, now RenewableUK). He has been Windpower Monthly's technical consultant since 1993. So he is just the kind of independent consultant you would turn to if you wanted an unbiased report. ;<)

Apr 30, 2012 at 7:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

From the Telegraph article on the RSPB report:

"It shows that there can be serious species-level impacts in the construction phase, so construction in the right place is absolutely key. But what it hasn't shown is that wind farms are 'bird blenders'. There is no impact from the turning of the blades," he said.

Try telling that to the Eagles!

Apr 30, 2012 at 7:43 AM | Registered Commentermangochutney


RSPB Scotland - Gross income £122,519,000.00

Woah! That is a truly astonishing amount for a niche animal charity. That has to be a UK wide figure? Even if it is UK wide, I never realised they were that well funded. I wonder how much of that comes via government?

Apr 30, 2012 at 8:01 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement


'statements about the lack of reliability of wind farm has been overstated'

This is a meaningless remark unless you can state

a. exactly which statements are you referring to, and
b. evidence that they have are overstated.

Just wittering on without evidence about wind speeds at 100m does not cut the mustard.

Apr 30, 2012 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder


TerryS is correct:

and the RSPB wants more:

Apr 30, 2012 at 8:38 AM | Registered Commentermangochutney

More breaking wind news: it seems that wind farms are causing climate change. The Telegraph has the story here.

Satellite data over a large area in Texas, that is now covered by four of the world's largest wind farms, found that over a decade the local temperature went up by almost 1C as more turbines are built. This could have long term effects on wildlife living in the immediate areas of larger wind farms.

Do the WWW and RSPB know, I wonder?

Apr 30, 2012 at 8:45 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Milborrow wrote two reports for Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF and RSPB in 2009. The other one was entitled "Managing Variability". In it he claimed

‘Constraint costs’ arise when the output from the wind turbines exceeds the demand on the electricity network. They are unlikely to arise until wind energy is contributing around 25% of electricity requirements.

So within less than 2 years of this bold prediction, with wind output less thasn 10% of requirements, he was proved wrong as below.

Mr Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, has stated that “in 2011 constraint payments totalling £12.1 million were made to wind farms through the balancing mechanism”, and went on to say that “In addition, National Grid undertook a number of forward energy trades through the market in order to balance the system. These are also classed as constraint payments and resulted in £12.7 million being paid to wind farms.”

Apr 30, 2012 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Re: mangochutney

I might be wrong :(

The Charity Commission for England and Wales show the exact same figure for both the RSPB and the WWF so they must be UK wide figures.

The FOE has an income of £9,334,984 from England and Wales so if you add this to the figure for Scotland you get an income of £10m from the UK.

Apr 30, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


Compare the metrics of bird deaths by wind turbines to bird deaths by other anthropogenic sources

The source of the information you provide is the AWEA, in their own words "A lobbying force for wind development and voice for wind manufacturers in the United States."

Any chance of getting a different source without economical interest in the matter? Just out of curiosity, you know...

Apr 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM | Registered CommenterPatagon


Even so, £122m a year! That's still a lot of dosh - £1 per bird by some estimates (RSPB 2004 say there were 126m individual birds (9930 species) in the UK excluding chickens and the like, Wrens being the largest number of individuals at around 16m birds)

Apr 30, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Registered Commentermangochutney

So we pay tax to the government.
The government pay subsidies to wind farm operators.
The wind farm operators donate funds to green charities.
Green charities commission polls to inform us of what we think.

He said a recent Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by the industry group found 68 per cent of people in the countryside are in favour of the new technology - just above the number in favour of wind in urban areas.

To say that I am a tad unimpressed by the continued use of the circular argument may be indicative of my skeptical nature, I do hope that I can discuss this with the representative of the Green party in my area this week.

Apr 30, 2012 at 9:07 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

The study on whether wind turbines are bird choppers expressly did not consider their effect on raptors. If one excludes the populations that are being affected then of course wind turbines have no effect on birds.

Apr 30, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth


Specially when one of the papers referenced clearly states:

"Mortality caused by turbines was higher than that caused by the power line. Losses involved mainly resident species, mostly griffon vultures Gyps fulvus (0·15 individuals turbine−1 year−1) and common kestrels Falco tinnunculus (0·19 individuals turbine−1 year−1)."

Barrios, L. & Rodrı ́guez, A. (2004) Behavioural and environmental correlates of soaring bird mortality at on-shore wind turbines. Journal of Applied Ecol- ogy, 41, 72–81.

Apr 30, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

Re: Lord Beaverbrook

According to their accounts the WWF spent £4m on "Influencing key audiences", £4m on "tackling climate change" and another £4m on "Changing the Way we live".

They also received £3.5M from DFID (Department for International Development)

Apr 30, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


It seems that Griffon Vultures don't look where they are going.

Apr 30, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

Mann is right! There is a conspiracy of Deniers on the pay of energy companies!!

Apr 30, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

The RSPB study is hilarious and useless - from the summary "Data were available for ten species although none were raptors."

Wind Turbines have also had no effect on the sparrows in my garden. So nothing to worry about, move along please...

Apr 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

RSPB loves Windmills so much...

Wonder how much they'll make from it. Glad I don't live in Sandy...

Apr 30, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoj

Are you sure that the RSPB's figures aren't actually Kate Humble's salary from the BBC ?

A few years ago, my mother-in-law was sent one of those "free" dial-up internet service CDs from the RSPB. I installed it for her and then had to spend the rest of the day undoing the damage that it had done to her PC.
She has recently stopped her donations to the RSPB as she has recognised it as a political movement rather than a body determined to keep up the sparrow numbers.

The appointment of Everyman's-fanatsy-Jolly-hockey-sticks-head-girl-firm-buttocked Kate Humble cut no ice either.

Apr 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Barrett

Well we got a tri-fector for Royal Society's.

Remember your not allowed to criticise though as it's for charity mate.

Apr 30, 2012 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

'DaveB' commented:

For about a decade, RSPB had a deal with Scottish & Southern whereby the former sold the latter's "green" electricity to members and supporters for commission. The scheme ran at much the same as Greenpeace's "Juice" deal with German nuclear giant RWE, developers of the North Hoyle off-shore subsidy farm.

A pity they can't do special deals so their electricity comes solely from renewables.With smart metering to ensure power cuts specifically targeted to the useful idiots when the wind doesn't blow, leaving more power available for the numerate. Sigh. I can dream.

Apr 30, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered Commentermalcolm

Tends to dwarf the payments we sceptics get from 'Big Oil'....
Hands up all those who've received their cheque this month...
Nobody..? Well - there's a surprise...

Apr 30, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid


"Wind Turbines have also had no effect on the sparrows in my garden"

Nor on my chickens. They must be safe, then.

Apr 30, 2012 at 1:41 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

John B

"firm-buttocked Kate Humble"

Have you got HDTV..?

Apr 30, 2012 at 1:43 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

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