The energy of the wind harnessed by well planned, correctly located windfarms, is an essential part of the response to the threat of climate change. But badly located wind turbines are a real threat to wildlife.
We’ve been working closely with our Bulgarian BirdLife partner BSPB for seven years to get the European Commission to enforce breaches to EU nature laws on the Kaliakra Peninsula on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria – you can catch up with the story here.
We’ve had some great news of real progress. RSPB’s International Site Casework Officer, Dan Pullen, takes up the story:
The European Commission has announced (21 June) that it has issued a final legal warning against the Bulgarian Government over its failure fully to designate, protect, and prevent deterioration of the Kaliakra Special Protection Area and Site of Community Importance, required under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.
This latest action by the Commission is the result of a prolonged campaign by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds since 2005, supported by staff in the RSPB International Division, for the full protection of the Kaliakra peninsula. Part of the Important Bird Area has been excluded from designation on spurious grounds, and many areas of the designated and undesignated parts of the site have been damaged by windfarm and housing developments.
The Kaliakra Peninsula is internationally important, forming part of the wintering area for the globally endangered red-breasted goose, which uses the agricultural fields in the area for feeding. It also acts as a stopover for thousands of soaring birds such as white storks on the ‘Via Pontica’ migration route between Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Its landscape includes rare grasslands – known to ecologists as ‘Ponto-Sarmatic Steppe’ which is a priority habitat for protection under the European Habitats Directive - even if its name is a bit of a mouthful!
Several large windfarm developments have destroyed areas of this most important ‘priority’ habitat, and reduced the feeding areas available to the wintering geese, potentially jeopardising their ability to survive the winter.
The Bulgarian Government will now have an opportunity to react to the final warning. However, if they fail to deal with the issues at hand (as indeed they have for the last seven years), then we fully expect the Commission to refer the case to the European Court of Justice by the end of the year.
Irina Mateeva, BSPB’s European Policy Officer who has campaigned vociferously on this case since the beginning said ‘we welcome this strong action from the Commission and hope that the Bulgarian government will finally get the message that it needs to take its European responsibilities seriously. Kaliakra should be fully designated, these damaging developments removed and the damage done to habitats rectified as soon as possible. We hope also that the recent plans for more wind farms in key sites for birds will be the subject of objective assessment and not developed’.
Dan will keep us posted of any new developments
Follow me on twitter
Dan Pullen is a regular contributor to this blog and, back in June , he was telling us that our work
Dr Tim Stowe is the RSPB’s Director of International Operation and he has been closely following