The European Commission on May 8 issued two guidance documents on energy transmission infrastructure and hydropower, as part of the EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy.

The http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/docs/Energy%20guidance%20and%20EU%20Nature%20legislation.pdf (guidance documents) outline the steps that need to be taken under EU nature legislation when energy projects are prepared. The Commission’s aim is to improve the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives on the ground while ensuring a safe, sustainable and affordable energy supply across Europe.

“Our objective is to ensure that EU nature laws deliver for nature, people and the economy,” said Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs. “Today’s guidance documents offer practical recommendations to guarantee that renewable energy developments do not pose further threat to our species, habitats and Natura 2000 sites. By allowing everybody involved in the preparation of renewable energy projects to consider environment early in the process, they will facilitate projects that work with nature, and not against it.”

According to the Commission, the guidance documents are designed primarily for use by authorities in the EU member states, as well as project developers, scientific experts and consultants, Natura 2000 site managers, non-governmental organisations and any other stakeholders involved in the planning and approval process of energy projects.

They underline the need for strategic planning that takes into consideration, early on in the process, the ecological requirements of protected species and habitats and wherever possible, they include measures to improve their conservation status.