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Parliamentary questions
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10 November 2008
by Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE)
to the Commission

 Subject: Wind farms, Castellón, Spain
 Answer in writing 

The installation and operation of eight wind farms comprising 260 wind turbines in the districts of Els Ports and Alt Maestrat in Castellón (Spain) has had serious consequences for the Natura 2000 network and important bird areas (IBAs)(1), with strictly protected species suffering a very high mortality rate. This high mortality rate, caused by birds crashing into wind turbines, has been officially recognised among griffon vultures, with other species affected including tawny owl, black kite, honey buzzard, kestrel, raven, rock thrush, short-toed eagle, booted eagle, grey heron, kingfisher, swift, hoopoe, skylark, thrushes, warblers, bats, etc. The species affected are protected under the Birds Directive (Directive 79/409/EEC(2)) and the Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC(3)).

With regard to IBA 149 Ports de Morella, the European Union Court laid down in a judgment of 7 December 2000 (Case C‑374/98) that for those Member States that have not ‘designated a sufficient number of SPAs’ (this includes Spain and the Valencian Autonomous Community), Article 4(4) of the Birds Directive should be observed in those IBAs awaiting classification as SPAs. In the Court's opinion projects cannot be undertaken in IBAs that will have negative effects on these areas and on the birds justifying said classification, unless interests can be proven that take priority over the ecological concerns; concerns of an economic or social nature cannot, under any circumstances, be considered to fall into this category when priority species are at stake.

The Generalitat was fully aware of the environmental importance of the areas selected and of the judgments given by the Court of Justice in Luxembourg that protect the IBAs by putting them on an equal footing with SPAs. After accepting the report on SCIs, it approved the Valencian Wind Farm Plan endorsing an EIS that ignored the existence of said ecological features in these protected areas and the repercussions of all kinds (on habitats, fauna, flora, landscape, historic-artistic-archeological heritage, etc.) this would have.

What measures is the Commission planning to adopt with regard to the infringement of European Union directives by the construction and operating of the wind farms in Castellón?

(1)These wind farms affect important bird area IBA 149 Ports de Morella and the following SCIs (Site of Community Interest. Natura 2000 network): Area 1: SCI ES5233001 Tinença de Benifassà; Area 2: SCI ES5223029 Bergantes and SCI ES5223002 Alt Maestrat; Area 3: SCI ES5223002 A.Maestrat; Area 4: SCI ES5233001 T. de Benifassà and SCI ES5223002 A. Maestrat; Area 5: SCI ES5223055 Serra d’en Galcerán and SCI ES5223004 Penyagolosa; SCI ES5222004 Curso Alto Riu Millars; Area 6: SCI ES5222004 C.A. Riu Millars and SCI ES5223005 Alt Palancia.
(2)OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1.
(3)OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.

Original language of question: ESOJ C 316, 23/12/2009
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