By Humphrey Carter

BALEARIC environmental groups yesterday backed the regional environment minister's rejection of central government plans to build wind farms in the Balearics.

The Spanish environment ministry published a report on Wednesday which concluded that the Balearics is one of the most suitable regions of Spain for wind farm development, but yesterday local green groups and Balearic Minister Miguel Angel Grimalt expressed their surprise and concern over Madrid's intentions.

Friends of the Earth highlighted the fact the Balearic coastline is very strictly protected and that coastal wind farms would be a serious blot on the landscape.

What is more, certain areas of the region are protected for their bird life and ecologists fear that wind farms would pose a serious threat to the lives of a number of bird species as well as the region's fishing industry. The north coast of Ibiza and the west coast of Majorca have been singled out as prime wind farm sites but it would appear that any attempts to build a wind farm in the Balearics would be met by stiff resistance.

Central government wants to start work on its wind farm project in 2010 and has located 62 possible sites and already, a total of 28 marine wind farm projects have been submitted to central government for consideration. Nine of them propose locating them in the Mediterranean, three in the Balearics, but Grimalt said yesterday that he has possession of European Union reports which conclude that Balearic waters should be excluded and protected from wind farm developments and that the EU is currently drawing up a new community marine protection document which could include the Balearics and would therefore scotch any Balearic wind farm plans.

Grimalt added that apart from the environmental and ecological impact a wind farm would have on the Balearics, the visual impact of wind turbines has also got to be studied and the negative affect such blots on the landscape could have on tourism have also got to be considered.

According to Grimalt, the previous Balearic Ministry for Tourism was consulted about wind farms and it too rejected the idea.
Madrid yesterday stressed that this week's report is merely the result of a preliminary study and that there will have to be full consultation with all regional governments and local authorities and complete consensus before any wind farms projects go ahead.


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