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European Parliament


<Commission>{PETI}Committee on Petitions



Subject: Petition 1160/2009 by Werner Sandig (German), on the erection of two windmill parks in the Czech border region Ústí nad Labem and the associated harmful environmental effects on the nearby German nature areas

Petition 1246/2010 by Thomas Kirsten (German), on behalf of the local council in the town of Altenberg in south-east Germany, on contravention of EU environment legislation in connection with the construction of a windmill park in the adjacent Czech border region

Petition 1501/2010 by Frank Legler (German), on behalf of 'Erzgebirgezweigverein Geising’, bearing some 350 signatures, on breach of EU environmental legislation in connection with the construction of a wind farm in the neighbouring Czech border region

1. Summary of petition 1160/2009

The petitioner, who is Mayor of the municipality of Rechenberg-Bienenmühle, objects to the planned erection of two windmill parks in the Czech border region Ústí nad Labem. This concerns 45 windmills that are 150 metres high in close proximity (35 to 70 metres) to German territory and the nearby nature park ‘Erzgebirge/Vogtland’, the habitat area ‘Oberes Freiberger Muldental’ and ‘Waldgebiete bei Holzhau’, designated a Special Protection Area under Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds. The project will also have negative visual and noise-related effects on the landscape and, consequently, on tourism, which is an important source of income for the local population. The petitioner therefore calls on the European Parliament to intervene with the competent Czech authorities with a view to ensuring that the project is stopped and the relevant EU legislation observed.
Summary of petition 1246/2010
The petitioner, who is the mayor of the town of Altenberg in south-east Germany, protests against plans to build a windmill park (25 windmills) in the adjacent Czech border region and stresses that this project will have a particularly negative impact on the protected Natura 2000 regions in Erzgebirge and, in particular, on the black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix or Tetrao tetrix), which is protected under Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds. He also points out that this is not the only case of the Czech authorities’ failure to implement EU legislation and he refers in that connection to a solar power installation and two windmills in the adjacent Czech areas of Moldava and Krupka. The petitioner also draws attention to the noise pollution connected with the project, which is hazardous to health, and the problems it will create for local tourism. The petitioner therefore calls on the European Parliament to intervene to ensure that the project is halted and that EU environment legislation is respected.
Summary of petition 1501/2010
The petitioner, who is the chairman of the above-mentioned association, protests against the planned construction of a wind farm in the neighbouring Czech border region of Fojtovice/Harbatice, and stresses that this project will have particularly adverse effects on the protected Natura 2000 areas in the Erzgebirge, and in particular for a number of protected bird species. The petitioner also draws attention to the health impact of noise pollution associated with this project and the problems this will cause for tourism in the area. The petitioner therefore calls on the European Parliament to intervene to ensure that the project is halted, and that EU environmental legislation is respected.

2. Admissibility

Petition 1160/2009 declared admissible on 27 November 2009.

Petition 1246/2010 declared admissible on 19 January 2011.

Petition 1501/2010 declared admissible on 18 March 2011.

Information requested from Commission under Rule 216(6).

3. Commission reply, received on 22 April 2010.

The petitioner complains about the intended construction of two wind parks of 45 wind turbines on the Czech-German Border, and specifically one of them - "Pastviny u Moldavy" on the territory of Krušné hory, Czech Republic bordering the region of SPA "Waldgebiete bei Holzhau", Germany. The petitioner gives an account of the protected birds, bats and other important species occurring in the "Naturpak Erzgebierge" on the German side of the border. He also stresses the possible negative effects on this attractive area and the connected tourist industry. Pastviny u Moldavy windpark project envisages the construction of 20 wind turbines of 3 MW each (altogether 60 MW). The construction work will include: the reconstruction of 2 000 m of an existing local road, construction of a further 6 900 m of a local road 4.5 m wide, and the laying of 10 000 m of cables. A project of this category - listed in Annex 2 of the EIA Directive 1985/337/EEC1 - is subject to a scoping procedure resulting in a decision as to whether it will be made subject to a systematic environmental assessment.

The petitioner expresses concerns about the possible negative visual effects of the project which could lead to serious losses for the tourist industry, upon which the area depends. The petitioner requests the Parliament to make sure that the assessment process is carried out in compliance with the Environmental Acquis.
The petitioner explains that the projects are located in an area originally inhabited by German citizens living in four villages and who were expatriated in 1945. The area was transformed into arable land afterwards. With the construction of the wind parks, the protected area would lose its value. The petitioner cannot see why the wind parks should be located in this particular area when there are enough other suitable places in the Czech Republic. The "Gegenwind" protest movement has been formed to represent the interests of the 1 840 inhabitants affected (30 July 2009), and 3 500 signatures have already been collected and a complaint sent to the Czech Ministry of the Environment in Prague. A media campaign has also been put in place to make their position known. They intend to achieve a definite rejection of the wind park.
With regard to the "Wind Park Pastviny u Moldavy", it has been discovered that the EIA process was set in motion with the project announcement by the Administration of the Ústí nad Labem Region issued on 22 December 2009. Based on a request from the German side, the assessment of the cross-border impact has been included. That is why the dossier was transferred from the regional administration directly to the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic in January 2009. It has also been recognised that the project may have a negative impact on Natura 2000 sites, and a request for an appropriate assessment has been made. However, an EIA should take into account the overall benefits of renewable energy, which displaces fossil energy, a major cause of air pollution and climate change.
The progress of the assessment is accessible on the following web-page:
As a general principle of European legislation, Member States are responsible for the implementation of Community law, in this case for the implementation of the EIA Directive 1985/337/EEC, the ESPOO Convention and the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC1 and in particular its Article 6 (3) "appropriate assessment". The Commission has the possibility to investigate and open an infringement procedure only in those cases where European legislation is being infringed.
The Environmental Impact Assessment process has taken into account the request of the German authorities to consider the possible cross-border impact of the project. It has also considered the potential significant impact on Natura 2000 sites. It is understood that the relevant legal proceedings are ongoing and no results are yet available. For further details about the proceedings, the petitioner should be encouraged to communicate with the Czech Authority responsible for the assessment: Mrs. Jaroslava Honová, director of the EIA Department, Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic, 100 10 Prague 10, Czech Republic.

4. Commission reply (REV.), received on 27 March 2013.

The Commission has been following the development of the project very closely since the petition was received in 2009. The project is still in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) phase. Pursuant to Czech legislation this assessment also includes the "Appropriate Assessment" (AA) as required by the Habitats Directive. The body responsible for the EIA is the Czech Ministry of Environment. All the steps undertaken and relevant documents are available on-line on the Czech EIA information system1.

The German authorities were notified about the project in July 2010. The project is legally classified as a project listed in Annex 2 to the EIA Directive 85/337/EEC. Therefore, it was subject to a screening procedure completed in 2010 which defined the scope of the EIA including the appropriate assessment of its effects on Natura 2000. The EIA Documentation consisting of an EIA study and an Appropriate Assessment study was published and opened for comments from the public in 2012. The EIA expert review was published on 19 December 2012 and the public was invited once again to comment by 4 February 2013. German translations were sent by the Czech Ministry of the Environment to the following German authorities in December 2012:

- Sächsisches Staatministerium für Umwelt und Landwirtschaft, Dresden;

- Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit, Berlin;

- Landratsamt Mittelsachsen, Abteilung 23 Umwelt, Forst und Landwirtschaft, Freiberg;

- Landratsamt Sächsische Schweiz-Osterzgebirge, Pirna.
The Appropriate Assessment (AA) considered 14 Natura 2000 sites in the Czech Republic and Germany. The assessment concluded that -taking into account a set of preventive and mitigation measures- the integrity of these Natura 2000 sites will not be affected by the project.

A public consultation of the project was organised on 6 February 2013 in the Cultural Centre in Dubí, Czech Republic. The meeting was attended by approximately 70 participants, about 15 of them from Germany. The German participants raised their objections to the project, essentially with regard to noise pollution caused by the project and its negative impact on local tourism.

As the next step the Czech Ministry of the Environment should issue its position on the EIA in March 2013 which should reflect the documents and comments made. On the basis of the concluded assessments, the approval process of the project leading to the possible development consent would continue.
In reply to the additional questions raised by MEP Mr Jahr during the Petitions committee meetings of 20 February and 20 March 2013 the Commission has the following comments:
- Applicable legislation does not foresee a role for the Commission to act as a mediator.

- The Commission does not examine ongoing EIA dossiers, unless it is investigating a possible infringement against EU legislation; or in the context of giving an Opinion under Article 6.4 of the Habitats Directive. The Commission has not received any complaint regarding this project.

- There cannot be a violation of neither the Habitats nor the EIA Directives if a project has not been approved.

- Following approval of the project, if the action group or the national authorities discover a particular violation of EU law they can lodge a complaint to the Commission.

On the basis of all the available information the Commission cannot determine any breach of EU legislation.
5. Commission reply (II), received on 30 October 2013

The petitioners point at windmill parks and further projects (solar power stations) on the Czech side of the Czech-German Border area in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge/Krušné hory). These projects are situated inside the Natura 2000 site (SPA CZ0421005 Východní Krušné Hory). The petitioners raise the issue of the compliance of these projects with EU environmental legislation, in particular concerning environmental impact assessment (EIA Directive 2011/92/EU) and Nature conservation (Birds Directive 2009/147/EC and Habitats Directives 92/43/EEC).

The petitions address the following projects:
 Windmill park "VTE Moldava" consisting of 18 wind turbines (3 MW each) that will be situated to the west of Moldava very close to the border
 Windmill park "VTE Habartice u Krupky" in the cadastral area Habartice u Krupky – location Fojtovická stráň consisting of 2 wind turbines (2 x 2 MW) located to the north of Krupka, to the east of Fojtovice
 Solar Power Plants in the vicinity of Moldava.
The Commission is not aware about other projects that would be relevant to these petitions.
The project Windmill park "VTE Moldava" is still undergoing procedures aimed at obtaining a development consent (construction permit). The integrated EIA including the Appropriate Assessment of the effects of the project on Natura 2000 and a cross-border assessment were concluded on 19 April 2013 by the Statement of the Czech Ministry of Environment. The Statement concludes only that this project has minor effects on Natura 2000. All the relevant documents are available on the web of the Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA) both in Czech and in German.1
A derogation procedure from the Czech Environmental Protection Act (that is in a wider sense equivalent with the species protection provisions stipulated in Art 12 of the Habitats Directive but includes also national protected species) was concluded on 26 August 2013.

The Commission has received and registered two complaints concerning this project. On the basis of an analysis of these complaints, the Commission is seeking clarification on several issues concerning compliance with EIA and Habitats Directives with the Czech authorities through the PILOT procedure.

The project Windmill park "VTE in the cadastral area Habartice u Krupky – location Fojtovická stráň" was subject to a screening procedure concluded on 1 March 2006. The screening did not confirm any significant negative effects on Natura 2000 or cross-border effects. Relevant documents are available on the web in Czech only.1 The Commission has no evidence that this project, as well as other smaller projects such as the Solar Power Plants around Krupka would have significant negative effects on Natura 2000 sites. Nevertheless, the issue of the cumulative effects of all the mentioned projects has also been addressed to the Czech authorities in the above mentioned PILOT.
The Commission is investigating compliance of the "VTE Moldava" Windmill Park with the EIA, Habitats and Bird Directives through an EU PILOT sent to the Czech authorities on 19 September 2013. The questions raised include also the assessment of the cumulative effects of this windmill park with the other projects mentioned in the petitions.
6. Commission reply (III), received on 30 March 2016

It is expected that the approval process of the project Windmill Park "VTE Moldava" will be concluded in 2016. For the time being, the procedure aimed at issuing a development consent (construction permit) has been interrupted.

The appeal procedure against granting the derogation from the Czech Nature Protection Act (in a wider sense equivalent to the species protection stipulated in Article 12 of the Habitats Directive2) has been interrupted until 31 March 2016.
In the meantime Czech courts are to address appeals against cancelling the spatial master plan.
The Czech authorities have informed the Commission that the appeal procedure against granting the derogation from the Czech Nature Protection Act will address the issues raised in the EU Pilot. This mainly concerns the occurrence of the target species (the Black grouse – Tetrao tetrix) in the project area, which was the main objection raised by the petitioner.
The Commission remains in touch with the Czech authorities in order to monitor the situation and ensure that the approval process of the Windmill Park "VTE Moldava" is concluded in compliance with EU nature legislation.

1 OJ L 175, 5.7.1985, p. 40-48.

1 OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.




2 Council Directive 92/43/EC, of 21 May 1992, on the protection of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora, OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.


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