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EU looks at how best to protect birds and habitats

New European Commission guidelines aim to ensure that the development of wind farms in Natura 2000 areas is compatible with the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives.

The new guidelines address the controversy that has raged between wind supporters on the one hand, and environmental supporters convinced that wind farms are bad for animal habitats on the other. 

The document reports that appropriately sited and well designed wind energy developments are generally not a threat to biodiversity: “if planned properly, modern wind energy activities can not only avoid impacting on wildlife but can also on occasion actively contribute to biodiversity conservation.”

However it also warns that strategic planning for new wind farms is key. According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), wind farm developers are today required to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment before construction of a farm can start. In addition, EWEA adds, 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," the organisation claims.

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.”

 

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