Wind power farms face protest

Environmental groups in Greece urged the government yesterday not to grant licenses for wind power parks on two Aegean islands, claiming they would damage the environment and affect income from tourism. Heavily reliant on fossil fuels, Greece wants renewable energy to cover as much as 20 percent of its overall energy consumption by 2010, with wind parks earmarked for the lion’s share of green power. Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) is evaluating two separate applications to construct wind parks on the Aegean islands of Skyros and Serifos, but the move has prompted protests rather than applause from environmentalists. «We are all in favor of wind energy but in both these cases they do more bad than good,» said Kriton Arsenis of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage. RAE’s ruling will be put to the Development Ministry for a final decision. RAE could not give a time frame for a final decision on the two parks but said the file for Skyros was more advanced. The wind parks, if constructed, will damage recognized nature reserves on both islands as well as spectacular views of the white sun-baked houses that are a magnet for thousands of tourists annually, environmental groups said. «For Serifos the plans are to build dozens of tall windmills which will basically ruin the view on the island,» Arsenis told Reuters. «They will be built above the main village, each at a height of over 100 meteres, and they will be the first things you will see coming in from the ship.» Many locals on both islands have opposed the plans, saying they want to protect their main source of income which is tourism. Tourism accounts for about 18 percent of GDP and roughly one in five jobs. «It is a huge plant that by itself will cover about 14 percent of the country’s wind energy production target for 2010,» the Hellenic Society’s Daphne Mavrogiorgou said of the Skyros plant. «Some 80 percent of that plant’s land, owned by a monastery, is inside a recognized NATURA 2000 nature reserve.» Endesa Hellas, a joint venture with Spain’s Endesa and Greece’s Mytilineos, said it will not negotiate with the local community on its Serifos application but would simply await the authority’s decision.

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