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Red-breasted Geese, like these at Saltfleet, Lincs, are vagrants in Britain, but becoming rarer globally. Photo: Steve Young (
Red-breasted Geese, like these at Saltfleet, Lincs, are vagrants in Britain, but becoming rarer globally. Photo: Steve Young ( image

Red-breasted Geese threatened by Bulgarian wind farm

Posted on: 15 Feb 2013

The Bulgarian Court recently overturned a decision by their minister of the environment to stop a wind energy project threatening an important site for wintering Red-breasted Geese.

The court ruling might lead to Bulgaria ending up in front of the EU Court of Justice, after plans to construct 95 wind turbines close to Durnakulak Lake were resuscitated; the site is one of the most important wintering sites on the Black Sea coast for the Globally Threatened Red-breasted Goose.

As a consequence, the geese might lose a significant part of their feeding area not to mention the risk of collision with the project's turbines. It is also at odds with an EU LIFE+ funded project run by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB, BirdLife in Bulgaria) called ‘Safe Grounds for Red-breasts’, which aims, with local and international partners, to find solutions to the problems facing the geese.

Despite a totally inadequate environmental impact assessment, the proposal was waved through by the regional inspectors only for it to be quashed by the Bulgarian Minister for Environment and Water, after the BSPB campaigned vigorously against it. This victory seemed to be part of a turning tide in Bulgaria towards proper regulation of development and protection of key nature conservation sites, exemplified by the adoption of the Bulgarian National Renewable Energy Action Plan.

The judgement to overturn the minister’s decision on a legal technicality is deeply misguided, say BirdLife, as the project appears to be in direct breach of European law. If the project is implemented, the European Commission is likely to take strong action through the European Court of Justice, which will require the Bulgarian government to remove the project and make good any damage to wildlife. This will be an embarrassment to the Bulgarian government (which is already in trouble with the commission over previous poorly-placed projects, and a damaging indictment of the Bulgarian judiciary.

BSPB and the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water have submitted a final appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court to get this judgement revoked. BirdLife Europe strongly encourages the court to find in favour of the appeal, so that the geese will remain free to feed in their key wintering grounds, as they have done for centuries.

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