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29 Nov 2019, 14:02
Benjamin Wehrmann

Northern German states demand renegotiation of wind turbine distance rules

Clean Energy Wire

The premiers of Germany's five northern coastal states demand a renegotiation of the controversial 1,000-metre minimum distance rule from residential areas for onshore wind turbines included in the country's climate action package, arguing that it threatened a key industry of the future and national climate targets at the same time. At a joint press conference in Berlin, Stephan Weil, SPD state premier of Lower Saxony, said he and his colleagues from Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania expected federal economy minister Peter Altmaier to "table a plan how the current wind power crisis can be overcome." Weil said the current expansion slump in wind power "is what happens if nothing happens" in terms of constructive policymaking, stressing that the northern states "expect and urge" the government to spell out how it intends to meet its own climate targets. Weil added that the success of the country's wind power industry "not only is crucial for the climate but also a core of our future industrial policy."

Altmaier's fellow conservative CDU member, Schleswig-Holstein's state premier Daniel Günther, said the states did not need a national minimum distance rule at all. "The states can do it themselves," Günther said, adding that the 1,000-metre rule would reduce the area available for new wind turbines by up to 70 percent and would also make so-called repowering measures -- in which old turbines are replaced by modern ones at existing locations -- much more difficult. Günther said he could not understand why the government makes life more difficult for wind power just when Germany decides to phase out coal power, adding that the northern states would also advocate for a further increase of the expansion goal for offshore wind.

The 1,000-metre minimum distance had officially been put in the country's climate action programme in a bid to increase acceptance of the technology and avoid lawsuits by citizen groups. However, industry representatives and climate activists alike have said the rule would substantially shrink the area available for wind power in the country and urged the government to reconsider it.

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