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New league table shows wind farm consent times across EU27

It takes on average 42 months to get a building consent for a wind farm in the EU, with Italy, Belgium and the UK among the quickest countries and Spain and Portugal among the slowest. These findings were disclosed by the EU-funded project, Wind Barriers, coordinated by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

The time needed for onshore wind farm planning applications ranges across the EU from less than 10 months to well over 50. The reasons for this enormous gap vary, but include the high number of authorities to liaise with, and the lack of clear administrative guidelines for developers,. Top of the table is Finland, with just over eight months needed to get permission to build a wind farm, followed by Austria (10 months), Romania (15 months), and Italy (18 months). The country where the patience of a wind developer is most challenged is Portugal, where over 58 months are needed on average to get permits. Also at the bottom of the list are: Spain (57 months), Greece (50 months) and Poland (43 months).

The Wind Barriers project also investigated the number of authorities that need to be contacted in each country in order to obtain permission to build onshore. Denmark has the fewest authorities to contact, just five, whereas Greece has the most authorities to contact, with 41. But there is not a direct correlation between the length of time it takes to get permission and the number of authorities that need to be contacted. Spain, for example, is one of the countries with the least number authorities that need to be contacted (only nine), but is one of the slowest, taking an average of over 57 months to get permission to build a wind farm.

“If Europe is serious about reaching 20% renewables by 2020 some member states need to streamline their consent procedures for wind farms,” Justin Wilkes, EWEA Policy Director, said. “There are a number of actions all Member States could take: creating a one stop shop approach for contacting the different authorities, writing clear guidelines for developers, and introducing better and streamlined spatial planning procedures. Implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive provides a real opportunity for targeted action in certain EU countries,” he said.

The experience in the offshore sector is, so far, more positive. The average time to get the green light is 18 months, much lower than onshore. “A number of countries with offshore wind farms have developed an efficient decision making process for this sector, thereby reducing the complexity for offshore wind developers,” concluded Wilkes.

Released during the third day of the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC), Wind Barriers revealed only part of the findings, which will be published in a full report with all data on administrative and grid connection procedures in developing wind farms in July 2010.

To see the Wind Barriers news clip click here