Wind farm investors concerned by effect of Natura restriction

Wind energy authorities and company officials are extremely concerned about tougher location restrictions for wind farm installations that could result from a new national RES site framework plan needed to replace the previous plan, now expired as it was launched in 2008 for a five-year period.

The energy and environment ministry, currently seeking a consultant for the new RES site plan’s framework, has raised fears amid the sector as a result of a regional restriction concerning Crete, approved just days ago by energy and environment minister Giorgos Stathakis, who has generally adopted views offering strong support for RES sector development.

The RES site restrictions just endorsed for Crete forbid the installation of new facilities within Natura 2000 areas, part of the EU network of protected areas. Should this framework be implemented, it is believed around 70 percent of Crete’s overall RES capacity will be excluded from utilization.

In comments to energypress, energy and environment ministry officials noted that the national town plan has superior power to regional plans and, as a result, the Natura restrictions for Crete could not take effect.

ELETAEN, the Greek Wind Energy Association, and ESIAPE, Greek Association of Renewable Energy Source Electricity Producers, as well as other green energy groups, have expressed their opposition to the restrictive measure signed by the energy minister for Crete.

Sector officials contend that RES installations are not forbidden from Natura-designated areas anywhere in Europe, adding that such restrictive measures, if imposed in Greece, would essentially stop wind farm development as Natura areas are widespread. Most areas located within Natura territory possess appropriate wind conditions for wind farm installations, sector officials added.

RES officials also noted that the sector already faces tough Natura-related restrictions as well as other conditions, such as distances from monuments (2 km) and houses (500m), all of which is subduing and delaying wind farm development.

At present, it takes investors at least five years to install wind farms from the day they have submitted applications for RES production permits.