Basque Country scraps plans for 44 MW Encartaciones project

Following a torrent of local opposition, the Basque Country authorities have scrapped the 44.2 MW Encartaciones wind project developed in Biscay over the past three years by the regional government. The developer, Eólicas de Euskadi (EESA), is a 50-50 joint venture between utility Iberdrola and the Basque government's energy agency, Ente Vasca de la Energía. It was the Basque government's own negative environmental impact assessment that definitely closed the project, quashing accusations of impartiality in its treatment of EESA, which operates 145 MW of the region's 155 MW installed wind capacity. Encartaciones was EESA's last project from the regional government's first call for wind development proposals in 2002, aimed at reaching around 175 MW in 2005. EESA says the site's wet peat fields which harbour rare plant species sealed the project's fate. But it had also been the subject of strong political opposition from Cantabria and Castile and León, who objected to its visual impact across the mountain ridge. Meantime, the Biscay provincial council had sided with environmentalists opposed to the project and taken the case to the European Commission. EESA refuses to be drawn on whether it was peat fields or political pressure that were the most decisive factor in ending the project, though notes that other projects on sensitive environmental sites in the region have proceeded after micro-siting adjustments to turbine placement. The company is now looking forward to a possible new call for proposals to meet the Basque government's wind target, aimed at 623 MW for 2010.

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