NGOs ask for more guarantees of environmental protection in the face of the deployment of offshore wind

The large Spanish environmental organizations have asked the Ministry for the Ecological Transition for more guarantees of protection of marine biological diversity and social participation in the face of the upcoming deployment of offshore wind energy in Spain.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
21 April 2024 Sunday 17:15
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NGOs ask for more guarantees of environmental protection in the face of the deployment of offshore wind

The large Spanish environmental organizations have asked the Ministry for the Ecological Transition for more guarantees of protection of marine biological diversity and social participation in the face of the upcoming deployment of offshore wind energy in Spain. The Administration has prepared a royal decree to order and regulate the general conditions that future offshore wind farm projects must meet. This is the phase immediately prior to the call after the tenders to award the exploitation of these projects. But the environmental world has presented various amendments to geographically limit this deployment and further encourage the involvement of the territory.

These entities (Greenpeace, WWF, Ecologists in Action, Friends of the Earth and SEO/BIrdLife) consider that the current text of the general regulation proposal "falls far short of being able to guarantee a deployment of marine renewable energy that is capable of ensuring the conservation of our seas and taking people into account in their development”

These organizations have demanded that the Government limit the development of offshore wind farms and limit them to the so-called areas of high potential for the development of offshore wind energy (Zaper), areas already identified and included in the spatial planning plan. maritime (POEM), which regulates all uses in the coastal zone.

The Ministry has identified a total of 19 polygons for the deployment of offshore wind, concentrated in four areas. Galicia and Asturias, the Andalusian coasts between Malaga and Almería, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and the Gulf of Roses

“These implementations should not occur outside of these already identified areas,” says Sergio Bonati, from WWF. These entities reject the possibility of authorizing locations outside the previously delimited areas (something that could occur under certain conditions, in cases where small-scale, experimental projects or initiatives that are based on previous legality are involved).

They also propose that the opening of wind farms be done in a staggered manner and that “priority be given to those that represent a lower degree of environmental impact,” explains Sara Pizzinato, from Greenpeace.

Likewise, they consider it necessary for the Administration to carry out a prior strategic environmental evaluation in each wind development zone (Zaper), “in order to be able to establish a maximum number of wind turbines that could be developed in each area and determine their optimal location. within it.”

“We are talking about something totally new, where we will have to go through a learning curve; We believe that this evaluation is necessary,” emphasizes Pizzinato.

Likewise, it is considered that any wind project that could adjoin or overlap with areas of great ecological value (called priority use for the conservation of biodiversity, ZUP) should be excluded.

Environmental organizations regret that the draft of the royal decree does not establish a mandatory implementation of environmental and social criteria when awarding projects through competitive tenders (auctions). Until now, the auctions to award wind farms were resolved in favor of the promoters who offered electricity at the best price. In the regulation on offshore wind energy promoted by the Government, environmental and social criteria will represent a maximum of 30% in the merit to award the tenders. But the organizations insist on increasing the weight of environmental criteria to 50% and social criteria to 25%. In this sense, they will formally request the government to modify the electricity sector law, to make it possible.

Likewise, they positively value the announcement that a dialogue will be promoted between the administrations and the private sectors (fishermen, tourism sector...) before the tenders are called to award the offshore wind farms and thus listen to the voice and concerns of the most affected agents.

However, they regret that this idea has not been established as a structural element in the entire process since this listening process will not be mandatory. “In this process, environmental groups are excluded,” laments Sara Pizzinato, who demands to open the door to conservation organizations.

For this reason, they propose a new format of dialogue that includes the participation of local communities and environmental defense associations, as well as the affected sectors and public administrations.

zThe environmental organizations propose creating a public fund for socioeconomic and environmental support in each of the areas of high development of offshore wind energy (Zaper), which would be nourished by a fee on the generation of each project. The resources would be used to “finance projects and activities that promote sustainable socioeconomic development and environmental protection of the area and affected local communities.”

As explained by these entities, the proposed approach seeks to “balance the necessary progress of the energy transition with the necessary safeguards that can guarantee, on the one hand, the protection of biodiversity and, on the other, an inclusive and participatory governance process that results in the fair and sustainable and sufficiently agile development of offshore wind energy in Spain.”