BfN denies blocking offshore foundations

EUROPE: Germany's nature protection body, Bundesamt fur Naturschutz (BfN), has emphatically denied reports that it has been blocking offshore wind authorisations.

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A report in FT Deutschland in July suggested that the BfN was responsible for foundation permits in the EEZ and that it had been refusing to authorise foundations.

An amendment to Germany's federal nature protection act that took effect in March 2010, extended nature protection instruments - that had previously only applied to land and coastal areas - to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), beyond the 12-nautical-mile limit. This means that the BfN now also watches over habitat and species protection in the area where most of Germany's offshore wind stations are planned.

But it is the Bundesamt fur Schifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH), not the BfN, which is the permit authority for projects in the EEZ. As the BfN is now a statutory consultee on projects in this zone, the BSH had merely asked for its opinion on a new type of offshore foundation - a gravity foundation - for which no permit application has yet been made.

BfN concluded that the foundations had to be assessed on a site-by-site basis, taking into account the habitat to be protected and the area of the seabed affected. No one type of foundation can be given precedence, it stated.

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