European Commission publishes guidance document on “Wind energy developments and Natura 2000”
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is pleased that the European Commission has released a document, “Wind energy developments and Natura 2000”, which provides clear guidance to national and regional authorities on how to ensure that the development of wind farms in Natura 2000 areas is compatible with the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives.
The European Commission’s guidance document states that “appropriately sited and well designed wind energy developments are generally not a threat to biodiversity”. Indeed, the guidance document highlights that: “if planned properly, modern wind energy activities can not only avoid impacting on wildlife but can also on occasion actively contribute to biodiversity conservation.”
EWEA emphasises that wind farm developers are today required to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment before construction of a farm can start. In addition the EU’s Habitats Directive (Article 6) includes substantive safeguards that must be applied to wind farm projects deemed likely to have an adverse effect on a Natura 2000 site. Overall, wind power’s impact on birds, bats, other wildlife and natural habitats is extremely low compared with many other human-related activities.
Natura 2000 is an EU-wide ecological network of nearly 26,000 sites in the 27 EU countries which, according to the guidance document, “ensures that human activities – inter alia wind energy activities – are undertaken in a way that does not adversely affect the integrity of Natura 2000 sites.”