European Platform Against Windfarms’ legal challenge accepted by EU Court of Justice

Following the acceptance by the EU Court of Justice of a legal challenge issued by EPAW [European Platform Against Windfarms], the question is now whether the EU renewables programme is unlawful?

The 608 associations of actual and potential victims of windfarms from 24 countries that make up EPAW are naturally hailing this as a first victory in their fight towards holding the European Commission accountable for the catastrophic results of its energy policy. They claim that the rights of European citizens have been violated in the progress of this policy and that justice is now in sight.

EPAW’s argument is that the European Commission has failed to conduct technical studies calculating how many tonnes of fossil fuels will really be saved by the hundreds of thousands of wind turbines it wants to force onto rural populations and on avian and marine life.

Mark Duchamp, the conservationist who runs EPAW, says: ‘As it turns out, various independent engineers estimate there will be no savings at all [Ed: reference in note 2 below], so the people are more than justified to seek redress.’

The Aarhus Convention [Ed: reference in note 3 below] requires that programmes that will affect the environment be elaborated with the participation of the public in a transparent manner. This means that Europeans should have been fully informed of the benefits of the EU renewable energy programme, as well as of its costs and undesirable impacts. ‘Instead”, argues Duchamp, ‘the Commission has been parroting the claims of the wind industry without verifying them.’

For instance, the European windfarm policy is based on the idea that any electricity produced by windfarms would save the amount of fossil fuels that would be necessary to produce it by conventional means.

Duchamp says: ‘This erroneous claim, promoted by the wind industry, has been adopted by the European Commission without due diligence.

‘Had they done their homework, they would have discovered that fossil fuel power stations, forced to ramp their production up and down to balance the erratic production of windfarms, are burning more fuel in the process, like a car leaving the highway and getting caught in city traffic.

‘And if you add all the other factors which the Commission did not investigate, in the end there are no net savings of CO2. Some engineers even suggest that the net overall result could be an increase in fossil fuel consumption.’ [Ed: reference in note 2 below]

This aspect of EPAW’s recourse to the Court of Justice shows how important it may be for the future of Europe.

EPAW says: ‘If windfarms are not helping to save on our consumption of fossil fuels, then they have no raison d’être and should be scrapped’.

‘Indeed, the collateral damage they cause is unsustainable, from people’s health to birds and bats, from subsidies to growing public debt, and from fast-rising power bills to the wholesale destruction of jobs [Ed: reference in note 4 below].

‘These aspects of the EU programme have not been assessed either, and were certainly not communicated to the public in a transparent manner.

‘It is a serious violation of the Aarhus legislation, and we expect the Court of Justice to rule that the extension of the programme after 2020 has no proper authority.’

The Aarhus Convention is turning out to be a useful protector of the environment, with its signatories having foolishly hoped that it would never be serioulsly used.

Argyll campaigner, Christine Metcalfe, and Avich and Kilchrennan Community Council used the Aarhus Convention, to hold both the UK and the EU to account in respect of its challenges to emissions figures on a proposed Loch Aweside windfarm – which were simply ignored. We will shortly be reporting on the decisions made on this case by the Compliance Committee of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe who heard Christine Metcalfe’s submission at the end of 2012.

Note: References in the EPAW press statement above can be followed by the links below:

  1. Text of EPAW legal recourse.
  2. http://epaw.org/documents.php [Click 'the backup problem' in the right margin.]
  3. http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/acig.pdf
  4. http://epaw.org/documents.php  See studies etc. classified by subject in the right margin.
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7 Responses to European Platform Against Windfarms’ legal challenge accepted by EU Court of Justice

  1. Wonderful letter in the Argyllshire Advertiser about the Strondoire Wind Farm proposed by the Stronachullin and Ormsary Estates. Seemingly it’s OK to despoil the countryside with wind turbines and load us all up with huge subsidies if the magic word ‘Community’ is included in the title. Now we know !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  2. I’ve heard of Marc Duchamp, the “Executive Director” of EPAW. A few years ago, he campaigned against a number of windfarms in Scotland, claiming, on the basis of some spurious figures, that they would kill large numbers of eagles, etc. Every statement he makes, and in particular any figures he is basing those statements on, should be scrutinised with very great care. His maths is not always very good!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  3. 608 associations from 24 countries supply information to EPAW – so I think his estimates are based on a reasonable supply of information. However specific statistics are available for many other countries but apparently not for the the UK. You would have thought the RSPB would be interested but – wait a minute – don’t they earn £1 million pounds per annum from a wind energy deal ? – Yes – they do.
    Back to some USA statistics taken from a Guardian article from the 14th May this year “More than 573,000 birds are killed by the county’s windfarms each year,including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles”
    The answer from the wind farm brigade is always that cats kill very many more – true – but they surely don’t kill our large birds of prey which appear to be especially susceptible to turbine blades revolving at up to 200mph.
    The figures for Spain and many other countries are equally dismal and if you like the sight of blood there are many pictures on the Net of bits of eagles which had at one time been joined together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  4. EPAW has taken this step on the basis of very considerable input from other countries across Europe whilst studies from other countries such as Canada the US and Australia give examples of very well documented studies of bird and bat kills. This just doesn’t seem to happen here as Malcolm Kirk says and one has to wonder why!

    I am not sure to which wind farms in Scotland Alex McKay is referring but I am aware that when Marc Duchamp came over to Argyll in the early 2000s he engaged with a considerable number of reputable people regarding statistics on eagles in particular at that time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

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