On 2nd March, Carlos Sanchez, President of the Spanish National Committee of IUCN Members and of the Foundation for Man and Nature (FNYH in Spanish), together with Juan Carlos del Olmo, Secretary General of WWF-Spain, and Guillermo Palomero, President of the Brown Bear Foundation, presented a proposal based entirely on the conservation of biodiversity, priority species and their habitats.
Sanchez stressed that FNYH had submitted their proposal for the zoning of wind exclusion areas in Cantabria, based exclusively on the conservation of biodiversity, priority species and their habitats.
He underlined that this is a positive proposal, since "none of the sites awarded to companies are completely closed" to wind development, a necessary clean energy according to FNYH.
The press conference was attended by Carlos Sanchez, Juan Carlos del Olmo and Guillermo Palomero, on behalf of two of the 18 environmental organizations that have endorsed this report. The quality of the report was emphasized for its seriousness, impartiality, independence and rigor in the consultation of experts. Del Olmo said that it is a “groundbreaking” proposal because, for the first time in Spain, wind development could be compatible with the conservation of biodiversity. "it could help avoid the chaos that has occurred in other autonomous communities," he said. Palomero too noted that wind development "must go hand in hand with conservation" to be effective.
Del Olmo added that the report is good for companies, since it has been developed taking into account all environmental regulations at regional, national and European level.
Furthermore, Sanchez added, the proposal prepared by FNYH fulfils Recommendations 4.130 and 4.135 and Resolution 6.062 of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), considered the largest global environmental platform, composed of governmental and non-governmental bodies.
When setting exclusion areas several criteria have been taken into account, such as the presence of endangered species or those threatened with extinction, habitats of interest to the community, existing environmental regulations or population areas. Even areas of exceptional environmental value that are not currently protected were respected, such as Mount Hijedo, the headwaters of the Pisueña River and Mount Silió.
The areas most vulnerable to the introduction of wind farms are classified as areas of extreme sensitivity. Among them are the Western section and a large part of the eastern portion (Montaña Pasiega), and the coastal mountains of the Cantabrian Range in northern Spain. FNYH recommends that wind installations be excluded in these areas. Only very specific and already damaged areas such as the highway area between Torrelavega and Reinosa could be considered.
On the other hand, it was recommended that all those areas classified as high and medium sensitivity in other parts of the region be studied in more detail to help determine whether or not wind development is environmentally viable before starting any operations.
The habitat of the Egyptian vulture: acting with extreme caution
The area covering the Eastern and Pasiega Mountains, where there is already a great number of wind turbines, is home to the largest number of Egyptian vulture nests, a bird in danger of extinction. The report recommends in these cases the precautionary approach, avoiding the increase of wind turbines in these areas, except for very specific and peripheral areas.
Protecting the core of the Egyptian vulture population is an environmental priority, especially bearing in mind the projected rate of annual mortality provoked by wind turbines and noting that the greatest nest abandonment occurs in areas populated by wind farms.
In this regard, Carlos Sanchez explained that the precautionary nature of the proposal is very important, as the impact on the number of birds killed by the turbines can vary enormously: "the difference is 0.2 birds killed per year, per wind turbine, in areas where informed decisions have been taken, compared to 60 birds per turbine in areas where such information has not been considered”, he said.
In addition to WWF-Spain and Fundación Oso Pardo, the following organizations are supporting the study: ADIC, Fundación Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, Fundación Global Nature, Fundación para la Conservación del Quebrantahuesos, Fondo para la Conservación del Buitre Negro, Fundación Oxígeno, Asociación Cultural Bosques de Cantabria, Fundación Tormes-EB, Asociación Trashumancia y Naturaleza, Aula del Mar de Málaga, Oceánidas, Mediterrània-CIE, Nereo, Fundación CRAM, Foro Asturias Sostenible para el conocimiento y el desarrollo rural, and Asociación Española de Entomología.