The European Commission recently published guidelines for wind energy development “in protected natural areas.” The guidelines apply to the Natura 2000 network, which it described as “one of the cornerstones of biodiversity policy of the European Union (EU) and a key instrument for achieving the EU target of halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity by 2020.”

“The wind has an important role to play in achieving the EU target for renewable energy involves 20% of Europe’s total energy consumption by 2020, its implementation in Natura 2000 areas is not excluded automatically although it must be evaluated case by case. ” In those terms today said the European Commission, which recognizes that “although in general terms, wind energy poses no threat to wildlife, the situation or inadequate design of wind farms can have a negative impact vulnerable species and habitats. ” Hence it has decided to develop the guidelines document that launched today.

According to EU Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik, “These new guidelines provide Member States and industry with clear information on the development of activities relating to wind energy in accordance with the requirements of Natura 2000.” The European Commissioner has explained further that “it is not changing the law or policy, but simply provide guidance on current legislation. Our purpose is to ensure that they meet the goals relating to renewable energy and that while fully respecting the EU legislation on the protection of the species. ” According to the EC today published guidelines include “a number of examples of good practice and demonstrate how wind projects may prevent damage to sensitive natural areas.”

According to the Commission, wind energy production in 2009 represented about 4.8% of total EU electricity, a percentage that is expected to triple by 2020. The EC defines the network as a Natura 2000 ecological network of nearly 26,000 locations in 27 EU countries, established under the 1992 Habitats Directive, which covers almost 18% of EU territory. Its aim is “to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of areas of great value in terms of biodiversity and long-term survival of species and habitats most valuable and threatened in Europe.”

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