Spain

Spain

ORNITHOLOGISTS PLAN LEGAL ACTION

Spanish Ornithological Society/Birdlife International is planning to sue Kenetech for accusations made about the credibility of a photo of a maimed vulture in front of a wind farm. Kenetech claims its intention was to comment on the credibility of Windpower Monthly not the photo.

In a new twist in the ongoing avian mortality controversy in Spain, conservationists are threatening to sue Kenetech Windpower of California under British legislation after the company accused them of killing a vulture and posing with it in front of wind turbines for photographs.

The accusation was made earlier this year by Kenetech President, Gerald Alderson, before a British parliamentary commission to which he was giving evidence on the viability of wind power in Wales. The photograph at issue was published on the front cover of the February issue of Windpower Monthly.

"This is a ludicrous, absurd and totally unfounded claim, " says Fernando Barrio, spokesman for the Spanish Ornithological Society/Birdlife International whose organisation is taking legal advice. "We are not going to tolerate these kind of remarks. We plan to sue."

Referring to the February cover photograph, of a man in a wind farm of Kenetech machines in southern Spain holding the body of a mutilated bird of prey up for inspection, Alderson told the chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Gareth Wardell: "That was a posed picture associated with a bird that that individual or someone who he is associated with killed some place and took up on the site and had the picture taken."

The photograph was taken by nature photographer Guillermo Doval and the man holding the bird by the wing to document its injuries was Luis Barrios, an ornithologist. He was under contract to the SEO/Birdlife International to carry out an impact study of the area paid for by the regional environment agency, AMA. Both men belong to SEO/Birdlife International.

Alderson has since apologised for the remarks in a letter to SEO/Birdlife International, saying he was not meaning to attack SEO but to comment on the credibility of Windpower Monthly. Juan Criado of the organisation's conservation department, says, however, that SEO had no choice but to seek legal advice. "If we do not respond, it will seem as if we have orchestrated a smear campaign against Kenetech's machines, and this is not the case," he said. "We are not trying to discredit wind power either, which is something else we could be accused of. We totally support wind power as long as the turbines are located in the right places."

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