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Nature conservation ignored in EU move to green energy

Euractiv.com — February 15, 2013

When it comes to choosing sites for wind farms, nature conservation is always the last thing to be considered, falling behind the price of land, proximity to power lines and opposition from locals, writes Luke Dale-Harris.

Luke Dale-Harris is a freelance journalist and media editor for Milvus Group, a Romanian ornithological and nature protection organisation. 

Even if the naysayers are right and they produce little else, wind farms most certainly generate debate. Doubts of their efficiency, cost, reliability and aesthetic impact are pitched against the fundamental need for a move to a cleaner form of energy production.

But the argument has become misplaced. In trying to deal with an issue that has come about due to our disregard of the natural world we live in, we have fallen again into an entirely human centric approach, our hands on our wallets and our eyes on our favourite picnic spots.

This is, of course, understandable. Money is tight, and the beauty of our countryside important. But, as wind farms will continue to be built, the result is that they are moved to areas where land is cheap, and human habitation scarce. Unfortunately, these tend also to be the areas where biodiversity is rich, and endangered species populous. In trying to keep renewable energy as inconspicuous and inconsequential as possible, we end up blighting the very thing we set out to protect.

New renewable energy developments in areas protected for nature conservation has become one of the most common environmental complaints at the European commission. That these two heavily funded EU environmental policies stand pitched against each other suggests a change of approach is desperately needed.

This incongruity is being played out at the moment in Romania, where over 5,000 wind farms are either built or consented In the Dobrogea area that borders the Black Sea.

The wind farms are evidence that Romania is genuinely committed to green energy. Once the turbines are all up, Romania will be one of the Europe’s most renewable energy dependent countries.

They are, however, also evidence that the government is little concerned for the conservation of its wildlife. Of the turbines to be built, over 752 will fall directly inNatura 2000 sites, areas protected under EU nature and biodiversity policy.

 (To continue reading, click here)

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