Wind turbine construction in German woodlands cannot be sweepingly banned – court
Clean Energy Wire
Building wind power turbines in Germany’s woodlands is permissible and cannot be prohibited by individual states on the basis of their own environmental regulation, the country’s highest court has ruled. The German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) announced that a law in the state of Thuringia that bans turbine construction in woodlands “without exception” violates the constitutional right of forest owners. Thuringia’s government had no legal competencies to prohibit wind power installations, for which the federal government had introduced privileges in construction law. The states may put certain woodlands under special protection on grounds of their ecological or economical role and also if construction works would damage the “beauty” of certain areas, the court said. However, there had to be “specific” reasons instead of general reservations against wind power in order to ban construction in a given region, it added. About one third of the central-eastern state governed by Left Party state premier Bodo Ramelow is covered by woodlands, many of which are currently under special protection to recover from damages caused by storms, beetle infections and other natural causes exacerbated by climate change. Forest owners in the state had litigated against Thuringia’s Woodland Act, which introduced the sweeping wind power construction bans, as they plan to use damaged forest areas for building wind farms.
Germany plans to greatly expand its already vast onshore wind power fleet in the next decade in order to back up its decarbonisation targets. However, the buildout has stalled in many states in the past years and the federal government has urged state governments to lift restrictive policies and enable a more even expansion across the country.