The decision of the local Prefecture Committee to approve the Environmental Impact Assessment regarding an out of proportion wind farm in the Greek islands of Lesvos, Limnos and Chios can only be characterised as “self destructive”, say the Hellenic Ornithological Society and the Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage.

The 353 wind turbines situated by 70% inside the Natura 2000 network of these pristine islands will have significant negative impacts on the world-famous birdwatching destinations of the North Aegean, Greece. The authorities voted for this harmful investment even though they were aware, via the public consultation process, that every year more than 4,000 birdwatchers and nature-lovers visit Lesvos.

Lesvos is a worldwide ecotourism destination owing to its biodiversity and its importance for birds, as it is situated at the crossroads between Asia, Africa and Europe. The income for the local community, through costs such as accommodation and car rental and food, is calculated at over 3 million euros annually. This is why ecotourism experts and birdwatchers, as well as a large part of the local community, have already opposed the investment [1].

Based on specific scientific evidence, the two environmental NGOs have already supported that the Environmental Impact Assessment of the project is inadequate and does not take into account the huge ecological and cultural value of the Northern Aegean islands. For example, the project is planned in a way that will irreversibly degrade the feeding and breeding grounds of two globally threatened species, the Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cineracea and Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae. Greece holds great responsibility for the protection of the Cinereous Bunting since Lesvos is the only EU territory that hosts the species. Moreover, Greece hosts 85% of the global breeding population of Eleonora’s Falcon.

This wind farm project crosses the limits of ‘common sense’, and especially in times of crisis, when local communities really need their incomes to be stable. The decision of the Prefecture Committee is one to avoid, because it demonstrates how authorities can sometimes fail to prioritise long-term social and environmental planning over short-term profits. We hope that the final decision by the Ministry of Environment will be in the right direction”, says Apostolis Kaltsis, President of HOS Board of Directors.

The installation of 353 wind turbines presents extremely serious problems and deficiencies regarding the protection of the landscape and cultural heritage, especially for Chios that has been hit hard by last summer’s forest fires”, says Daphne Mavrogiorgou, Project Manager of the Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage.

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 [1] Read here the opinion of ornithologist and author of “A Birdwatching Guide to Lesvos” Steve Dudley which was submitted to the authorities during the public consultation:

Authorities show indifference towards protected areas and ecotourism in North Aegean islands Pavlos

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