EU: Bulgaria turbines bad for birds

The EU is taking Bulgaria to court over large-scale wind development it claims took place without properly considering its impact on wildlife.

The European Commission (EC) said Bulgaria will face the EU Court of Justice over development in the Kaliakra region on the Black Sea coast – a site that falls under the Natura 2000 network of protected sites.

EC environment commissioner Janez Potočnik said the Bulgarian authorities had “authorised a high number of economic activities in the area without appropriate environmental impact assessment.

“Thousands of wind turbines and some 500 other projects have been authorised without adequate assessments of their effect on Kaliakra's unique habitats and species, and on the thousands of birds and bats that fly over the site each year on their way to and from Africa.”

Up to the entire global population of the world's most endangered goose species – the red breasted goose – can spend the winter in a small number of sites in and around Kaliakra, said the EC.

Although Bulgaria had taken steps since last year to limit the impact of new developments, the EC said “rare and unique priority habitats and species have been affected by a large number of wind turbines and other developments, either without environmental impact assessments, or with inadequate assessments”.

It said the cumulative impact of authorised projects on wildlife had also been ignored.

That leaves the country in breach of its obligations under the EU Birds  and Habitats Directives as they relate to Natura 2000 sites, says the EC.

The EC added: “Although Bulgaria is committed to increasing the protection of rare species and habitats in the region, the reverse appears to be happening.”

Bulgaria faces a potential fine if the Court of Justice finds against it.

The Birds Directive played a part in recent, successful legal action against the Viking Energy wind farm planned for Shetland, Scotland.