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

epawJune 21, 2013

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.

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