Germany Changes Law To Allow Wind Turbines To Keep Killing Birds

Birds heading towards a wind farm turbine. This image highlights the debate about whether or not wind turbine rotor blades present a danger to bird populations (Shutterstock/Ian Dyball )

Germany’s parliament abolished environmental protections for birds and bats and allowed companies to build more wind turbines, according to a statement released Monday.

The Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, removed some protections under the Nature Protection Act to accelerate the construction of new wind farms, which tend to kill birds and bats. Regulations were only rolled back for animals killed by wind turbines, not those that died to other industrial activity.

“Contrary to all expectation, however, the amendment was added to the agenda of the Bundestag at short notice,” the Bavarian Association for Landscape Care and Species, a German environmental group, said in a statement Monday.

“Obviously, a gap in public attention was being exploited to push through this far-reaching change in the law in favor of the wind energy lobby shortly before the current parliament comes to an end,” the group said.

Germany has added 27,000 wind farms in the last few years, but until now, many violated laws protecting endangered species. German environmental groups were furious with the legal changes, arguing that wind turbines already kill 250,000 bats and 12,000 birds in the country every year.

Germany had planned to cap wind power at around 40 to 45 percent of national capacity to deal with its rampant unreliability, but the country hasn’t slowed down building efforts and is still approving new turbines. Rolling back endangered species protections removes a major barrier to the further expansion of wind power.

Germany’s so-called “Energiewende” plan aimed to boost green energy use to fight global warming, but so far the plan hasn’t significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions. On the contrary, it may have actually caused emissions to rise.

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