Spanish bird protection group halts Iberdrola project

SPAIN: The Supreme Court of Castile and León has ordered a provisional freeze on the building at the 21MW Curueña II project, developed by a consortium led by Iberdrola, due to irregularities by the regional administration during the environmental impact assessment of the project.

The Urugallo is one of the birds threatened according to SEO/Birdlife
The Urugallo is one of the birds threatened according to SEO/Birdlife

The ruling is the most recent in a spate of Spanish court orders nullifying local authority wind project licenses, some already online or building.

It is also the third advanced project to be provisionally halted in the Omaña district of León province, in the region of Castile and León.

Castile and León is Spain's top regional wind market—with over 4GW online—and a hotspot for legal debacles between wind developers and environmental groups, especially avian protection group SEO/Birdlife.

Indeed, all three court orders already issued in the Omaña area mark the resolution of twelve cases brought to the Supreme Court by SEO/Birdlife.

The court has accepted the group's accusation that the regional authority was duty bound to take into account the collective environmental impact of all twelve projects as a whole once built, rather than the impact of each individual project. The remaining nine cases are pending a court verdict.

The area is highly sensitive, said SEO/Birdlife, due to harbouring unique local bird species, such as the Urogallo. The administration says it will appeal the court orders. SEO spokesman Juan Carlos Atienza told Windpower Monthly the court cases were not against developers but against the authorities licensing the projects.

The Omaña case comes on the heels of a court order in May for the dismantling of a 49.5MW wind complex owned by Acciona in Catalonia, due to town planning regulations, currently under appeal.

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