June 22, 2012
Blogs, Greece

Proposed wind farms on Lesvos

Jan Doherty | Toronto, Canada & Steve Dudley | Lesvos Birding athene-birdinglesvos.blogspot.com

You may not be aware that the Spanish energy company, Iberdrola, plans to place 153 huge turbines in the western part of the island. The turbines will be placed on the summits of many of the mountains in the area, with the exception of those in the petrified forest. To accommodate the turbines and to allow for their construction, placement and maintenance, the summits will be flattened and c. 100 km of new roads will be built. Materials and construction vehicles will require the new roads up to the summits to be 5 to 10 metres wide.

The dimensions of each of the 153 turbines is:
Height = 67m
Weight = 145 tonnes
Blade length = 39m
Rotation of blades = 80m
Generator = Gamesa G80-2.0 MW
For full specification of these turbines see here.

This is an enormous project.

You are no doubt very familiar with the western part of Lesvos and will understand that this development is completely out of scale for the area. The development will impact on the fragile phrygana scrub area of the island, found mainly in the west of the island, and which is the characteristic habitat of this region of Lesvos.

More urgently and to the point, this proposed development will be placed directly onto the densest breeding territory of the endangered Cinereous Bunting. The tops of hills, exactly the sites chosen for this project, are the preferred nesting grounds for the breeding pairs of this species. Lesvos holds c.98% of the European population (the remainder are on Chios – also to be developed as part of this project, see below) and it is estimated that up to 50% of the breeding population will be affected by this development.

As you know, there are many other species of birds dependent on this area, such as, Cretzchmar’s Bunting, Eleanora’s Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Kestral and Peregrine Falcon, to name only a few, in addition to the flora and fauna found throughout this phrygana region of the island. The wind turbine construction would radically alter the delicate ecology of the island’s west.

The first environmental studies have been completed and conclude that there will be no negative effect on the Cinereous Bunting, even though there own studies indicate at least 15% of the Cinereous Bunting’s most favourable breeding habitat will be lost. Their conclusion is that the overall effect on the birds will be negligible. It is not surprising, given the facts, as outlined above, that we and Greek ornithologists dispute this conclusion.

The project is timetabled to begin in 1–2 years.

While this is the immediate concern, it should be noted that this is the first step of a larger scheme that would place turbines in incremental numbers on Lesvos, Chios and Limnos. The plan for Limnos would involve 440 huge turbines and would cover 700 hectares of land. Limnos has the largest wetlands in the Aegean region and rare natural saltpans. Other energy sector plans involve massive solar farms and the damming of rivers in the northern parts of Greece, all of which would destroy birding habitats forever.

Economic turmoil and unrest have caused tourism in Greece to decrease by 30%. Lesvos is not immune to this and tourism this year is expected to be at an all-time low. The island’s wonderfully varied and rich habitats make it a birder’s delight. Because so many birders visit Lesvos, birding is a significant part of the overall tourism and for some areas, it is now the primary tourism activity. This proposed wind turbine development would greatly impact on not only a critical habitat and region of the island, but also of the economic benefit the island derives from birding tourism which will directly impact on the lives of hundreds of Lesvos residents.

The local ornithologists fighting this project need your help. Please help in any or all of the following ways:

1 | Contact hotel owners, taverna owners and local tourism leaders that you know of and currently use, to let them know that the degradation and loss of habitat involved in this project will make Lesvos less attractive to birders and will inevitably affect their businesses. It will most certainly cause an overall reduction in the tourism industry in Lesvos, particularly birdwatchers and other wildlife tourists.

2 | Contact the Minister of Regional Development & Competitiveness for Greece

Anna Diamantopoulos: anna@diamantopoulou.gr.

Let her know of the serious impact of this project. The habitat loss and resultant biodiversity loss will cause an economic cost that Lesvos can ill-afford. Long term plans for the project will cause even greater damage to Greece’s economy. Moreover, such a project is directly counter to the European Parliament’s stand on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

3 | Contact the European Commissioner for the Environment
Janez Potocnik: janez.potocnik@ec.europa.eu

4 | Contact Gerben Jan Gerbrandy – author of the report on EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and Member of the European Parliament (MEP): gerben-jan.gerbrandy@europarl.europa.eu

5 | Contact the following from BirdLife International / Europe:

Alistair Taylor (RSPB EU Biodiversity Policy Officer) – Alistair.Taylor@rspb.org.uk

Ian Burfield (BirdLife) – ian.burfield@birdlife.org

Jose Tavares (RSPB, UK) – jose.tavares@rspb.org.uk

Thanos Kastritis (Greece) – tkastritis@ornithologiki.gr

6 | Kakalis Eleftherios (University of the Aegean on Lesvos) – kakalis@env.aegean.gr

Suggested points to highlight:

* the nature of the project; its huge impact on the island of Lesvos, in particular, on the island’s birds, especially the endangered Cinereous Bunting (as outlined above)

* the incompatible nature of the project in terms of the economic sustainability of the overall tourism industry in Greece and the particular economies of the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Limnos
* the negative impact the project will have on the islands tourism economy by impacting on future birding tourism

* the future, devastating economic impact of the next steps of the project on the Greece’s tourism industry

* the incompatible nature of the project in terms of the EU’s international commitments under the Convention of Biodiversity
* the urgent need to put a halt to this project

The deadline for submissions is 14 July 2012 – please act now!

Thank you for your concern. Should you wish, please feel free to contact Jan regarding this important issue. Let her know if you have suggestions for additional ways we can help.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/06/22/proposed-wind-farms-on-lesvos/