06 Jan 2020, 14:10
Benjamin Wehrmann

Proposed compensation payments for wind turbine neighbours met with scepticism in Germany

Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung / dpa / Tagesspiegel Background

An idea by Germany's governing Social Democratic Party (SPD) to abate resistance against new onshore wind power projects with compensation payments to nearby residents has been met with doubt by municipalities and other politicians. SPD parliamentary group vice leader Matthias Miersch said in the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that "those who accept wind turbines need to be rewarded" financially while rights to sue against them should be cut, adding that a joint working group by the federal government and the 16 states is looking into different compensation models that could increase the turbines' acceptance. Uwe Brandl, head of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB), rejected the idea, saying the energy transition meant that some things "need to be tolerated without compensation”. Brandl told news agency dpa, in an article carried by Zeit Online, that the government must not "pay people off for keeping quiet”, since otherwise those who live near roads, power lines, railways or other infrastructure may make similar reimbursement claims. Politicians of the Left Party in Thuringia and of the Free Voters in Bavaria also rejected the idea, arguing that citizen energy cooperatives or community organisations would be more appropriate for including local residents than compensation payments, energy policy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background says.

While wind power became Germany's most important power source in 2019, the renewable energy source's expansion in the country has slowed down substantially over the past two years, as thousands of planned turbines are stuck in licensing procedures and lawsuits. A proposal by the economy ministry for a minimum distance of 1,000 metres from the nearest residential area for onshore turbines to reduce conflicts has been widely rejected by industry representatives and climate activists, saying it would render the goal to reach a share of 65 percent renewables in power consumption by 2030 unachievable.

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