Bulgarian windfarms threaten migratory birds
More than half a million European birds will be at risk as they soar along Bulgaria’s Northern Black Sea Coast on migration after the Bulgarian Minister of Environment and Water gave the go-ahead for three wind-farm developments at Cape Kaliakra, a BirdLife-designated Important Bird Area (IBA).
The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB)/Birdlife Bulgaria and other conservation NGOs had lodged an appeal against approval of the projects, but Arsenova overruled it, giving the go-ahead for at least 80 wind turbines, each 120 m tall, to be constructed at Cape Kaliakra.
"More than 500,000 soaring birds—pelicans, cranes, buzzards, eagles, and storks—will be at risk. This is Europe’s second largest soaring bird migration route and these birds come from all over northern Europe; Bulgaria has an international obligation to protect them." —Dr Nikolai Petkov, Director of Conservation, BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria
"BSPB is not opposed to wind energy developments, which we believe can help in preventing climate change and global warming, but we are concerned that wind turbines should be built in places where they won’t have a negative impact on nature. What worries us about the Kaliakra proposal is the geography of the location, when birds flying east to west along the coastline will pass through the path of the turbines," Dr Petkov added.
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the development failed to consider alternative project areas or note the site’s Important Bird Area (IBA) status.
"The EIA experts also seem to have ignored the recommendations of the Bonn Convention resolution on windfarms and Bern Convention reports," said Petkov. "Bulgaria is an Accession Country, and this case would be in clear breach of the European Union’s Habitat Directive, which requires precautionary measures to be taken to avoid damage to key conservation sites."
Official statements by BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria and other conservation NGOs—the Bulgarian Association of Alternative Tourism and the National Natural History Museum—opposing the development, plus additional statements against the project from all Institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, have been ignored by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW).
BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria now plans to launch an appeal in the regional court against the MoEW decision, and is considering lodging formal complaints with European institutions to put international pressure on the Bulgarian Government to comply with European Union conservation legislation, and on the project’s investors.