The European Commission is hoping to resolve the conflict between wind farm operation and the necessity to protect of bird and bat habitats with the publication of a set of guidelines for wind energy developers.

The new guidelines apply to the ‘Natura 2000’ network of protected sites, which represent a key element in the EU’s efforts to reverse the region’s loss of biodiversity by 2020.

According to the Commission, the guidelines will give Member States clarity over the development of wind farms in Natura 2000 areas so that renewable energy targets can be met without a negative impact on vulnerable or protected species. They contain examples of best practice and highlight the importance of strategic planning.

The deployment of wind farms in Natura 2000 sites – of which there are nearly 26 000 in the EU – is not excluded, but such developments “need to be evaluated on a case by case basis”, says the Commission.

The Natura 2000 network covers almost 18 per cent of the EU’s land area and its aim is to assure the conservation and sustainable use of areas of high biodiversity value.