Strategic planning

AuthorDirectorate-General for Environment (European Commission)
44 Guidance on Wind Energy Developments and EU Nature Legislation
4.1 General information
4.1.1 Strategic planning in the general context of wind energy
In order to reconcile wildlife interests with the need to expand renewable energ y, it is necessary to plan new
infrastructure in a strategic manner over a large geographical area. Strat egic planning will also be a good basis
for assessing applications for permits within the timeframes specified in the revised Renewable Energ y
Directive (EU) 2018/2001 i.e. two years for ne w power plants and one year for repowering.
Under the Regulation 2018/199958, Member States must draw up n ational energy and climate plans (NECP)
to achieve their planned contributions to the EU’s 2030 renewable energ y target. Furthermore, under
Article 15(7) of the revised Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001), Mem ber States must carry out an
assessment of potential renewable energy sources and where appropriate, include spatial analysis of areas
suitable for low-ecological-risk deployment. T herefore, the NECPs should form the basis for spatial plans at
national and/or regional scales or at least inform these. The spatial plan may include all renewable energy
types, or it may focus on individual sectors such as wind energy development. The plans should be subject to
SEA for identifying and assessing effects (including cumulative effects ) while highlighting knowledge gaps and
research needs as well as potential alternative delivery opt ions that avoid or minimise likely significant eff ects.
Strategic planning in this context involves a decision-mak ing process. This must first of all determine whether
and to what extent wind energy development is indeed the most environmentall y, geographically, socially and
economically suitable mechanism to meet the carbo n emission reduction and renewable energy targets.
Secondly, it must carry out spatial planning of wind energy developments. Although wind energy is considered
as a key renewable energy source with high growth potential in the EU, regional c ircumstances may well favour
other technologies or emission-reduction strategies. Spatial plann ing encompasses a wide range of physical,
socio-economic and environmental conditions and requirements in order to identify the locations that are best
fit for purpose. Strategic planning of wind energy developments takes into account not only wind conditions,
but also the technical feasibility for construction (e.g. sea depth, accessibility of mountain ridges), connection
to electricity grid, distance to human settlements, landscape, nature co nservation objectives, etc. All these
conditions need to be considered and can affect the feasibility and implementation of wind energy projects. In
this guidance document the focus is on nature conservation.
Box 4-1 Elements in defining technical wind energy development and w ildlife sensitivity
Technical and socio-economic considerations for suitable wind energy development locations:
wind resource conditions (e.g. speed, turbulence, extreme wind speeds, wind shear, flow condition)
access to and capacity of the electrical transmission and transport networks
ground/seabed conditions and topography
proximity to residential areas
land/seabed availability and existing land/sea uses
proximity to existing aviation (tip height restrictions) and shipping navigation corridors
restrictive noise regulations
safeguarding distances to radar or airports
Wildlife sensitivity
Natura 2000 site location, location of functionally linked land (e.g. areas outside Natura 2000 sites that
are important
for foraging by species for which the Natura 2000 site is de
signated) including the flyways/migration routes between
Natura 2000 sites.
Other national/regional protected areas and other areas/habitats that are (potentially) important for protected
59 Although this guidance focuses on Natura 2000 sites, wildlife sensitivity mapping is a broader tool, not restricted to

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