Guidelines To Reconcile Wind Energy Development And Biodiversity Policy

That’s why the European Commission has published guidelines for wind energy development in protected natural areas. The guidelines apply to the Natura 2000 network, a cornerstone of EU biodiversity policy and a key tool to achieve the EU target of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2020.

Wind power has an important role to play in meeting the EU target of 20% 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.

Janez Potoènik, European Commissioner for the Environment said: “These new guidelines will give Member States and industry clarity regarding the undertaking of wind turbines development activities in accordance with Natura 2000 requirements. 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."

Strategic planning is key

The guidelines published today are aimed at avoiding conflict between wind farm development and biodiversity conservation in Natura 2000 protected areas. They highlight the importance of strategic planning and the need for good quality appropriate assessment of new developments. The guidelines contain examples of best practice, and show how wind energy developments can avoid damage to nature sensitive areas.

Planning wind farm developments in a strategic manner over a broad geographical area is one of the most effective means of minimising the impacts of wind farms on nature and wildlife from the start of the planning process.

It not only leads to a more integrated development framework but should also reduce the risk of difficulties and delays at later stages at the level of individual projects.