SEO/BirdLife: The development of renewable energies must not damage biodiversity


Good intentions are not enough. Without proper planning even clean energies could harm biodiversity, at least according to an organization focused on birdlife defense and conservation.

The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife) has sent letters to Minister Teresa Ribera and the entities concerned with environmental matters throughout the autonomous communities. In these letters, the organization manifests its concern over the lack of environmental planning in Autonomous Communities with regards to the new renewable power boost.

Protection of biodiversity and the natural environment must be guaranteed

“The acceleration of the renewable energy implementation process is Spain is not properly accompanied by the necessary territorial planning and the adequate safeguards to ensure coherence with the protection of biodiversity and the environment,” according to David Howell, SEO/BirdLife head of Climate and Energy, in a statement published in its website.

Spain has made a series of environmental commitments, among which is the fight against climate change, the reduction of greenhouse gases; and energy conservation and efficiency. European Law establishes detailed requisites for projects that could potentially affect the environment, including energy projects. Said requisites are focused on the evaluation, mitigation, and compensation of the environmental impact. They also mandate that the corresponding plans and programs must be presented.

Clean energies don’t always follow environmental regulations

The SEO/Birdlife representative indicates that there is an undeniable need to move forward with the implementation of renewables. Unsurprisingly, this reality demands to further work on the development of programs and projects for power generation and distribution, all within the imminent Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan; as well as the emissions reduction and clean energy generation targets. However, these projects are frequently on the fringes of protected areas that are especially relevant for endangered species.

The Spanish renewable power sector has not always abided by environmental regulations, SEO/BirdLife says. In view of this, sometimes there are deviations that pose serious threats for biodiversity. This has forced this organization, as well as other civil society entities to appeal to justice. The courts have ruled in their favor many times. Nevertheless, these regulations are still widely ignored in some autonomous communities, even in the face of a clear jurisprudence and firm rulings, the Society assured.

“In the past, we have resorted to renewable energy plans, programs, and projects and the law has sided with us time and time again,” Asunción Ruiz CEO of SEO/BirdLife stated. Furthermore, she assures that projects continue to be processed in strategic community frameworks that are still not updated and without assessing the potential environmental impacts.

“Spain cannot allow itself another renewable energy wave without the proper legal security guarantees for companies and investors in the sector. We cannot fall into the same trap twice with another boom. Now more than ever, we need responsible development of renewable energies,” she added.

Rules to follow

SEO/BirdLife considers that coexistence of energy transition and environmental protection is crucial. To this end, it is essential that the autonomous communities comply with the following rules:

1.-Having an existing strategic energy and climate plan. It must be updated and in line with the rest of the sectoral strategic plans and European and international obligations. They must also have their corresponding strategic environmental assessment.

2.-Prioritizing, encouraging and rewarding power conservation and efficiency in all sectors, to reduce energy demand.

3.-Promoting renewable self-consumption installations.

4.-Establishing and applying territorial criteria for the different forms of renewable energy.

5.- Preparing and publishing clear and transparent instructions for public employees in charge of processing, evaluating, and monitoring the projects’ impact.

6.-Encouraging scrupulous respect of the current regulations, jurisprudence, and judicial rulings.

7.-Guaranteeing the adequate use of public funds, in terms of coherence between the energy, climate, and biodiversity target of the investments financed with them.

8.-Disseminating good energy development practices and promoting their widespread application.

9.-Having sufficient human resources for all the associated work.

10.-The Ministry for the Ecological Transition must set guidelines that guarantee that the penetration of renewable energies is done in a responsible manner in all autonomous communities.

For more information, check Energía16

See also: Endesa moving forward with energy transition with three new wind farms in Teruel

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