05 May 2020, 14:09
Edgar Meza

German environment ministry weighs wind farm distance regulations to protect birds

Tagesspiegel Background

Onshore wind power producers may soon face new hurdles in Germany. The environment ministry is considering the introduction of minimum distance regulations to protect threatened bird species, among them the red kite, the black stork and the lesser spotted eagle, Steven Hanke writes in Tagesspiegel Background. The ministry has presented plans to state governments and associations detailing possible species-specific rules to better protect bird breeding grounds. The plans call for wind turbines to be built at least 750 metres away from the breeding grounds of red kites and ospreys and more than 1,000 meters away from areas inhabited by black storks and eagle species. Mandated distances to bird breeding grounds have so far remained a matter regulated by the states, Hanke points out. In most cases, state regulations do not specify a minimum distance and instead define a protection radius.

While most Germans support wind energy, ardent opponents have campaigned against the renewable energy source citing concerns over the turbines’ effects on people, wildlife and natural scenery. The German economy ministry has pushed for regulations to keep wind farms at least 1,000 metres from residential areas. Critics have said this would bring expansion to a standstill, threatening the energy transition's success. After strong growth for several years, onshore wind power expansion in Germany dropped to its lowest level in 20 years last year, with the construction of thousands of turbines being held up by licensing challenges and lawsuits.

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