Berlin – Marie-Luise Wolff formally kneeled Robert Habeck (Greens). “The bird list has certain test intervals,” said the President of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) at a congress last week and looked imploringly at the Minister of Economics next to her. In the future, too, the construction of wind turbines will not be possible if a red kite is nesting 2,000 meters away or a black stork 5,000 meters away. “We have to sharpen that again,” said Wolff.
The pressure seems to have paid off. On Wednesday, those plans became known with which the government wants to revive the recently dormant wind power expansion. With two draft laws that are to go into the cabinet next week, the traffic light wants to ensure that the federal states make significantly more land available for wind power. In addition, the construction and approval of the systems should be accelerated by allowing wind turbines to be built in landscape protection areas in the future and by standardizing the species protection test – with consequences for red kites and black storks.
The plans of the Ministry of Economics to impose the areas on the states if necessary are explosive. A drafting aid for a “wind-on-shore law”, which is available to the Tagesspiegel, shows that the federal states must make two percent of the state’s land available for wind turbines by 2032. The tasks for the countries vary in size. Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, where there is less wind, should have 1.8 percent of their state area ready in ten years. Brandenburg, Hesse and Saxony-Anhalt, on the other hand, have to provide 2.2 percent wind area. The city-states should only reserve 0.5 percent of the country’s area. For Berlin, this corresponds to an area of around 620 football pitches. So far there have only been eight wind turbines here, and around 0.5 percent of all areas in Germany are built on with wind turbines.
The federal states must have reached the interim target of 1.4 percent of the state area by 2026. If they miss this value, the federal government can also lift the distance rules of the federal states. “In principle, the federal states can continue to decide on minimum distances, but they must ensure that they achieve the area targets and thus make their contribution to the expansion of wind energy,” says the text: “If they do not do this, the state-specific distance rules will not be applied. “
The federal government is thus tightening the thumbscrews for the federal states. Recently, two other states, Brandenburg and Saxony, had passed laws according to which the unpopular wind turbines may not be closer than 1000 meters to buildings.
For the time being, the rules may apply, but in practice it will probably be difficult for the federal states to designate areas far away from settlements for wind turbines.
The new federal laws could also settle the political dispute in Thuringia. There, the CDU is pushing for a law for a distance of 1000 meters to be passed as well. An application that the party wanted to bring to the Erfurt state parliament could be passed with votes from the FDP and AfD. A “dam burst” for the red-green-red minority government.
But now there is a compromise. “I asked the CDU not to vote on the application this week and then to do the necessary fine-tuning of the application together,” Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (left) tweeted on Wednesday after a conversation with the CDU. The Greens, who had strictly rejected the draft, said they would be willing to negotiate. After all, the planned federal law gives them security that the wind turbines will still be built.
In fact, the goals that the federal government prescribes for the states are a bit flexible. For example, the states can “transfer” up to 25 percent of the land to one another as part of a state treaty. If two federal states agree among themselves, the areas can be exchanged. City states like Berlin should even be allowed to exchange half of the target with other federal states.
In order to enable the central project of the traffic light – to increase the proportion of green electricity to 80 percent by 2032 – the procedures should also be accelerated. It currently takes an average of eight years from planning to building a wind turbine. The approval procedures usually fill several folders. Complaints from animal and nature conservationists keep delaying construction.
With an amendment to the Federal Nature Conservation Act, the approval procedures are now to be standardized. The Ministry of the Environment has created a list of 16 bird species for this purpose. Depending on the bird species, wind turbines may not be built at a distance of 350 to 5000 meters. The hurdles for exceptions for species protection have been increased significantly. The black stork is no longer on the list, and the distance for red kites has been reduced to 1200 meters. Jörg-Andreas Krüger, President of Nabu, criticizes the amendment: “Legal uncertainties and technically poor solutions threaten lengthy clarifications by courts.” In case of doubt, the draft weakens nature conservation and the energy transition at the same time.
Economics Minister Habeck is convinced that the conflict between wind power expansion and bird protection can be overcome. That was successful in his home country, he told the BDEW last week. “When I graduated from high school in Schleswig-Holstein in 1989, there was a white-tailed eagle, no female eagle and no wind turbine.” When he later became Minister of Agriculture, there were 150 breeding pairs and 3,000 wind turbines. “In the last 20 years we have become an electricity export country and a sea eagle export country in Schleswig-Holstein.” Big laugh. It is still unclear whether Habeck can repeat the success from the north.