Blog post by IAIA's Spanish Affiliate President Iñigo Sobrini
Renewable energy projects, photovoltaic and wind farms in particular, are increasingly approved and developed in Spain, with great potential for environmental and social impacts due to their large size (thousands of hectares) and location (in the natural areas). Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) contributed to ensuring that these projects were authorized after a rigorous technical analysis and after a process of consultation with relevant administrations and stakeholders, the procedure resulting in modifications and conditions to mitigate potential significant effects and make the projects environmentally and technically viable. The application of the EIA procedure does not mean that all impacts, inherent to all human activity, are avoided or fully mitigated—something that we must assume both individually and as a society. However, through EIA we can optimize projects in terms of maximizing their positive consequences, and avoiding, minimizing, or at least compensating for the negative impacts on the environment
On December 28th of 2022, the Spanish Government introduced Royal Decree-Law 20/2022, currently under parliamentary review, that introduces the possibility of exempting renewable energy projects from EIA, without any limitations of their size, with the only condition of not being located within protected natural areas, areas designated as part of the Natura 2000 Network, or in the marine environment. This implies that projects may be authorised without being subject to public consultation and, therefore, without feedback from stakeholders and relevant administrations. In this context, stakeholders and the general public are deprived of their right to participate in project authorisation processes that may directly or indirectly affect them for many years.
In the Spanish Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA affiliate), we strongly argue that the proposed amendments to the authorisation of renewable energy projects should never be at the cost of reducing their environmental and public consultation requirements. Read AEEIA’s press release here.
Members, what do you think of AEEIA's position? Continue the discussion on IAIAConnect.
Iñigo M. Sobrini, Presidente, Asociación Española de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental