wind farm

Environmental NGOs want plans for three offshore windfarms scrapped

NGO’s objections add to grave concerns already raised by fishermen

Government plans for a massive belt of offshore windfarms are not just under attack from fishermen – convinced they will spell death to the sector – now NGOs have joined the fray, saying three of the farms “must be completely excluded”.

The farms are only some of those cited by fishermen (fishermen are against the wind farms planned for Viana do Castelo, Leixões, Figueira da Foz, Ericeira-Cascais and Sines; NGOs objections focus on Matosinhos (inland from Leixões), Ericeira-Cascais and Sines).

Environmental NGOs want plans for three offshore windfarms scrapped

While the fishermen’s beef could be described as ‘environmental from a purely fishing point of view’, the NGOs is environmental from a technical point of view.

Associação Natureza Portugal (ANP/WWF), Sciaena, Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (SPEA) and ZERO stress: “”We have identified three areas that overlap with the Natura 2000 Network. We are talking about the Matosinhos area, the Sintra-Cascais area the Sines area (up to 50 metres deep). These are very important areas for seabirds and cetaceans (whales and dolphins). We consider that they have to be completely excluded from this proposal”.

The public consultation period for all five areas began on January 30 and ends tomorrow (Friday).

In the case of Ericeira, the NGO’s consider that, despite not overlapping with the Natura 2000 Network, the area does not respect the buffer zones of two Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and should also be removed, or at very least have its boundaries rethought.

According to the eco organisations, even without these areas, the installed power “corresponds to an average annual production of 37 terawatts per hour, about 75% of current electricity consumption in Portugal”.

Despite their objections, the NGOs admit that offshore renewable energy “plays an unavoidable role in the European energy transition to a resilient and fully decarbonised economy and will be essential in the pursuit of the objectives of the European Union (EU) and Portugal for 2030.

Carolina Silva of ZERO told an online briefing today that “All projects and locations should be subject to environmental impact studies and strategic environmental assessments (…) this offshore wind energy cannot have significant impacts” (which of course fishermen claim it does).

Yesterday (Wednesday), minister for environment and climate action Duarte Cordeiro told parliament that he believes the energy sector in Portugal will mobilise at least €60 billion of “mainly private investment by 2030” according to the government’s energy transition and decarbonisation plans.

Whether this will mean that ecosystems existing along the coastline suffer (as fishermen claim they will), and whether their existence signals the end of traditional fishing (as boats will not be allowed in the areas of the farms) remains to be seen.

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