|Too little, too late: Environmental Impact Assessments for wind power in Romania
In June 2011 over 8400 wind turbines were planned or undergoing environmental assessment procedures in Romania. One of the most important problems in terms of avoiding harm to wildlife is that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for wind farm projects in Romania have been of very poor quality, hiding the real biodiversity situation in the proposed locations. The environmental authorities have little capacity to check the quality of EIAs, or to take action to improve this situation. SOR/ BirdLife Romania is working with authorities to improve the quality of environmental procedures, and working with investors who seek its views.
About half of the proposed wind turbines (5000) are planned or are already built in the Dobrogea region. About 64% of Dobrogea is designated as Natura 2000 sites or other protected areas by national law. It is one of Europe’s most important bird migration areas (on a migration route known as the “Via Pontica”). It the only wintering area in Romania for the critically endangered Red-breasted goose, and is an important area for at least 20 bat species. About 30 habitats protected by the EU Habitats Directive have been described in Dobrogea.
Two priority habitats (ponto-sarmantic steppe and deciduous thickets) are likely to be directly affected by construction of turbines. About 800 turbines have already been built in sensitive areas in Dobrogea, some of them near to the unique Danube Delta ecosystem affecting areas for wintering red-breasted goose (e.g. Istria, Sacele), or migrating areas of geese, storks, and pelicans. Some of the proposed wind farms in Dobrogea will affect breeding or migrating areas for raptor species (e.g., Babadag, Macin Mountains).
NGOs (including SOR/BirdLife Romania) have been lobbying central and local environmental authorities over the last three years, to put pressure on them to develop a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (SEA) for wind energy development in Dobrogea, and to produce a bird sensitivity map. In 2011 they became more receptive and started to develop some documents for a national SEA. However, so far no concrete action has been taken. The main problem is that baseline data are missing: surveys are needed for birds, bats and habitats. SOR is working to obtain funds for the necessary bird surveys to develop a sensitivity map for the Dobrogea region.
Also, since 2010, SOR have been lobbying EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) (which have interest to invest in wind energy in Romania) to finance a Strategic Assessment Review for Dobrogea Region. The funds for EBRD are available from 2011, but so far no concrete action have been taken by the Romanian authorities.
SOR, Romanian Ornithological Society (BirdLife partner in Romania)
Marina Cazacu, marina.cazacu(at)sor.ro