The German online Nordwest Zeitung (NWZ) reports here how mainly German Socialists and Greens (of all people) are moving to relax strict laws designed to protect nature and endangered species.
The aim is to clear the way for the industrialization of the North German rural countryside and natural areas with wind turbines.
Pushed by Germany’s Greens and Socialists, the country’s nature protection act to be watered down to make the industrialization of natural areas far easier. Image cropped from here.
Journalist Marco Seng reports that under the existing law a planned wind park near the town of Zetel, for example, will have to remain shut down for 6 months every year in order to protect the area birdlife. However, denying wind park construction and operation in order to protect nature and wildlife has become just too much to ask of Germany’s socialists and environmentalist greens.
They are now pushing through a watered-down law.
Each year in early spring a number of bird species transit through or nest in north German regions, which wind park developers and operators happen to find ideal wor wind energy generation. That’s a big problem. Under the current federal law wind turbines located in sensitive areas are required to shut down from March 1 to August 30 in order to comply with § 44 of the German Nature Protection Act.
Seng reports how a number of turbines are planned to be erected in different areas this year. For example the county of Friesland gave its approval in early January to rezone the areas by the end of March and allow the construction of turbines. Citizens groups however have protested, claiming that the turbines will not be profitable due to the summer shutdown period. Yet the mayors insist they will still make a profit and the projects will go ahead.
All this is highly controversial as the NWZ writes that recent studies and expert assessments have concluded that “many bird species are threatened, foremost predatory birds because they do not avoid turbines“.
Also the Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung (German Wildlife Foundation) estimated that approximately 250,000 bats and over 12,000 predatory birds fall victim to wind turbines annually, with a high number being killed over northern Germany. Recently some courts found in favor of the red kite hawk, and thus some planned wind parks were denied approvals to be constructed. The reason, NWZ reports, “a high risk of death to birds and adverse feeding conditions for predatory birds.”
So it’s little wonder that wind energy proponents are adamantly pushing for relaxing Germany’s nature protection laws.
At other locations, wind park projects are being given the green light anyway, angering nature-protection activists. The NWZ quotes Monika Oetje-Weber of the Kammersand citizens’ action group:
If all the information and documentation on the presence of important bird species had been taken seriously, then the approvals would have never been issued.”
The municipalities and project proponents, however, insist that the the turbines that are to be erected will pose no threat to bird life.
Watering down the nature protection laws to allow the turbines to run all year.
Because of the intensifying collision course between wind projects and birdlife and nature, and the increasing protests against wind parks in rural areas, the German government is now moving to alter Germany Federal Nature Protection Act to make it easier to build and operate wind parks and highways. The NWZ writes:
You read that correctly. In the future the Federal Nature Protection Act’s § 44 Section 1 No.1 ban against killing will be valid for interventions and projects if the risk of death for especially protected species in unavoidably signficantly high.”
This means the bar will be significantly lowered for wind projects. The reaction from nature activists came swiftly and harshly. The NWZ:
‘The amendment leads to a dramatic threat increase to birdlife and bats by wind turbines, and that is unacceptable,’ says Fritz Vahrenholt, Chairman of the German Wildlife Foundation. The killing of birds is thus no longer a principle reason for obstructing wind turbine parks.”
Other leading traditional environmental protection groups such as NABU are outraged, writes the NWZ:
We see absolutely no necessity for the planned amendment. We demand that lawmakers do not pass the amendment as it currently stands,’ says NABU President Olaf Tschimpke.”
Others accuse the government of having hollowed out the country’s nature protection laws and caving in to industry lobbyists. Others say that approval committees have not been strict enough when it comes to species protection assessments, claiming that the planning of the projects violates the law.
The NWZ concludes that a major collision between nature protection and the wind industry is now more unavoidable than ever. But the trend is clear: in Germany nature and birdlife are losing the battle against the powerful industrial wind lobby and climate protection activists.
Germany risks seeing the worst government-steered environmental disaster since the collapse of Communism late last century.