The European Commission (EC) has published guidelines that aim to control wind energy development in protected natural areas.
The Commission believes that while in general wind energy does not pose a threat to wildlife, inadequately designed wind farms could have an impact on vulnerable species and habitats.
The guidelines apply to the ‘Natura 2000’ network – a cornerstone of EU biodiversity policy and a tool to achieve the EU target of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2020.
“These new guidelines will give Member States and industry clarity regarding the undertaking of wind energy development activities in accordance with Natura 2000 requirements,” said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the environment.
While Potočnik believes the importance of wind farms cannot be underestimated, there is a need for wind farms to be constructed in a strategic and case by case manner in order to guard natural habitats and wildlife.
“Wind energy has an important role to play in meeting the EU target of 20pc renewable energy in Europe’s total energy consumption by 2020, and its deployment in Natura 2000 areas is not automatically excluded. But such developments need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
“There is no change of legislation or policy, but merely guidance on existing law. Our aim is to ensure that renewable energy targets are met while fully respecting EU law on species protection.”
The EC hopes this will lead to a more integrated development framework and reduce the risk of difficulties and delays at later stages at the level of individual projects.