New threat to Spanish IBA
Just weeks after escaping from the controversial Spanish Hydrological Plan, one of Europe's most important bird areas, the Ebro Delta, now faces a major new threat.
Nine wind farms are planned just 5 km off the coast of the Delta. 144 turbines, 115 metres tall and stretching for 15 kilometres, are being proposed by the private company Capital Energy.
Similar nearby projects are also in the pipeline: 128 offshore turbines have been earmarked just 6 kilometres further along the coast.
"The whole of the Ebro Delta, beyond the Natural Park, has been excluded by the Catalonian Government as a potential location for wind farms due to its ecological value. Hence, it makes no sense to place them barely 5 kilometres away from the most important seabird colonies in the Natural Park." —Alejandro Sánchez, Executive Director, SEO/Birdlife
Many thousands of seabirds, waders and wildfowl could suffer if the wind farm plans become reality. Two species in particular stand to be particularly affected by the schemes. The wind farms would be sited in the centre of the main Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii feeding area, a species endemic to the Mediterranean. At Punta de la Banya – less than 5 kilometres away from the planned wind farms – a colony holding 60% of the world population can be found. Unlike other gulls that feed mainly on rubbish, the Audouin's Gull feeds on sardines and other small fish in the rich waters off the Delta. They do so mainly at night, making collisions with the turbines a substantial threat.
However, the species most likely to be affected is the Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus. This Critically Endangered seabird has a total world population of less than 6,000 birds. Disturbance to the species' favoured feeding area just offshore from the Delta at the continental shelf, poses a very real risk.