Developers to clear 850,000 sq m of virgin forests on UNESCO nature reserve to make way for 700-foot turbines
The days of an open welcome to “environmentally-friendly” wind parks in Germany are over.
When the turbines were small-scale and novel, people were generally open to them. But now that they have reached skyscraper dimensions, have proven to be unsightly, and have demonstrated poor performance, they are not welcome anymore.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the picturesque southwest German region of Palatinate, where the online Die Welt here reports on the mounting fierce opposition that wind turbine developers are facing. The developers have their sights aimed at the hilltops of Germany’s fairy-tale-like Palatinate forest…an area that has been designated by UNESCO as a natural treasure and biosphere reserve. Here they hope to install wind parks with skyscraper-dimensioned turbines. Die Welt writes of the area:
It was the first cross-border natural reservation of this type in all of Europe because it also includes the Alsatian mountain range. Not very many Germans know that it is the largest uninterrupted landscape in Central Europe. Whoever wishes to see it, had better hurry up.”
850,000 sq m of virgin forest to be cleared
According to Die Welt, hungry wind park developers with deep pockets plan to install 60 wind turbines, each 209 meters (700 feet) tall in the area. Unsurprisingly this looming large-scale green industrialization of this particularly idyllic landscape has become too much to take, even for the most avid climate activist groups. Die Welt writes that for the first time all ten local environmental groups have closed ranks against the project, says Bernd Wallner of the Pfälzerwald-Verein (Palantinate Association). Opponents are rallying, calling it a matter of “homeland defense”.
Die Welt provides the technical details of the monster-size turbines: Each blade is 60 meters long and they will need elaborate roads to allow their transport to the site where they are to be installed. Each turbine will require 3000 tonnes of concrete and 100 tonnes of steel. In total 200,000 tonnes of concrete and 130,000 cubic meters of gravel will have to be hauled in by 60,000 trips by heavy cargo vehicles, which will involve the burning of 600,000 liters of diesel fuel and the clearing of 850,000 square meters of virgin forest.
Like putting turbines on Ayer’s Rock!
Environmentalists are fuming. Opponents accuse the wind turbine developers and the local and state authorities of covering up the environmental costs and impacts of the project and misleading the public. Critics say the senselessness of the project is tantamount to putting wind turbines on Ayers Rock.
Unrealistic profit projections used to “bait the public”
Opponents also accuse the wind park developers of putting out overly optimistic figures for expected wind turbine performance in order to bait the public. Die Welt writes:
Ernst Gerber believes the promises of profitability, with which investors and local representatives are being baited, are estimates from a naïve milkmaid: ‘Despite the subsidies, things are moving towards the lower limits of profitability.’”
Die Welt itself characterizes the promise of profitability made by the wind park developers as “rotten”, and that the region is one that is “low in wind”.
Threat to wildlife…violate the law
The wind park opponents also say that the monster turbines are a threat to wildlife and birds. What’s more, turbine critic Rainer Becker thinks they would violate the law, “The construction of the wind parks are clearly in violation of the existing laws and the international species protection act“.
Other opponents claim that big business and power companies in Luxrmburg are ramming the projects through and ignoring the wishes of the local inhabitants, Die Welt writes.
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