The EU will aim to “drastically” speed up environmental consenting of renewable energy development in newly-created so-called ‘go-to areas’ across the bloc.

The European Commission will tell its 27 member states to designate areas for fast-track permitting without the need for lengthy environmental procedures, said the Financial Times, citing draft proposals being drawn up as part of efforts to wean the EU off Russian gas as fast as possible.

The need to spend years gaining environmental consent is regularly named by the wind and solar industries as one of the biggest challenges slowing projects that could otherwise rapidly advance to construction.

Designating the zones could “result in the occasional killing or disturbance of birds and other protected species”, says the draft document according to the FT.

Brussels is currently under the banner of its REPowerEU initiative looking at a range of measures to speed roll-out of renewables and hydrogen in a bid to cut heavy dependency on imported fossil fuels, a significant amount of it from Russia.

EU Green Deal vice-president Frans Timmermans said on Tuesday that the bloc will soon present detailed proposals to increase energy security based on more renewables and hydrogen, as he claimed Russia’s aggression had already made the case for green H2 more compelling.

“With the gas prices we see currently, green hydrogen from renewables is becoming competitive. In this way, Russia's war against Ukraine facilitates the very energy transition that will stop fuelling Putin's war machine,” Timmermans told an industry conference.

The EU vice-president in the same speech confirmed renewables permitting “must be accelerated, and it must be accelerated drastically, in clear go-to areas that allow a speedy procedure and ensure nature protection at the same time.

“We have to be very, very creative. In our upcoming plans, we will make concrete proposals to achieve that.”

Timmermans added: “Everywhere I go, in every corner of Europe I visit, stakeholders tell me one sole thing: ‘if we want more wind and solar projects, or even geothermal and other projects, we need quicker permitting'.

“In the worst cases, procedures for a wind farm can take up to nine years and for solar energy on land up to [five] years.”