Not long ago environmentalists stridently demanded mankind stop its addiction to fossil fuels and convert to renewable energy sources, like wind power. And so some countries did just that. But now we’re finding out that environmentalists don’t like that either.Today Der Spiegel online reports that environmentalists are going to court and challenging almost every planned windpark project under the sun, now claiming they are a threat to birds and wildlife.
For example in 2007 the company Neue Energie Berlin GmbH was getting ready to install Hamburg’s first windpark in an industrial zone called Pankow-Nord. It seemed like a model project for responsible energy production. But before too long, the project ended up getting challenged in court. The environmental protection group called Nabu filed a lawsuit claiming the planned 180-meter tall windmills endangered the only two remaining red kite bird pairs in the city. The project was halted.
Eventually, the court decided the birds were not at risk and gave the project the green light. The nests after all were three kilometres from the construction site. The case clearly illustrates that not only are windparks riddled with technical probelms as reported read here, but also face huge, costly legal obstacles.
Because windparks generally are situated out in the countryside, conflicts with natural wildlife habitats are inevitable. Environmental lawsuits against planned windparks are mounting and threatening to throw sand into Germany’s vision of a green future. Indeed, according to Der Spiegel, Germany’s Minister for Environment Norbert Röttgen warns:
That of all things, precisely the environmental activists are putting plans to expand renewable energy at risk.
The exasperated Minister Röttgen then demands
…that the German environmental organisations put forth their own plans as to how they think wind energy and biomass plants are to be intensified without billions of euros in investments getting blocked by ecological objections.
Currently environmentalists are barricading against government plans for further expansion of windparks in the North Sea. Already 4400 square kilometers of sea area are now planned for offshore windparks. But environmentalists now cite dangers to sea birds and whales. Der Spiegel writes:
A total of 95 offshore-parks are planned to be built in Germany’s so-called Excluded Business Zones and thus will seriously encroach on the living space of protected species such as the red-throated and Arctic divers. Even the Federal Office for Nature Protection says the birds will respond by making a wide circle around the windmills. There’s also a danger that construction noise will harm the protected common porpoise.
The regulators at the Federal Office for Nature Protection say:
For this reason not every place in the Excluded Business Zone will be permitted.
So indeed it looks like billions of euros emarked for investment in wind energy are about to hit the big green legal wall.