Quercus wants solar power plants outside forests and protected areas

By TPN/Lusa, in News, Health & Environment · 29-05-2021 20:00:00 · 0 Comments

Environmental association Quercus has demanded that photovoltaic power plants stay out of forests and protected areas, saying that new plants to produce electricity from solar energy have had an impact on the landscape and nature.

In a statement, Quercus argued that the government should only license new power plants if they meet "sustainability criteria" for protecting the land, nature and landscape.

The association stresses that renewable energies must continue to be a bet for the production of electric power, especially for the residential, industrial and services sector, but points out that there are "alternatives to large photovoltaic plants" that have less impact on the environment.

The installation of plants in industrial areas, the assembly of solar energy modules "on the roofs of public buildings, existing factories" or the use of waste land are "preferable to the unregulated proliferation of large plants that affect the landscape and soils, making fertile land for agriculture and forestry unviable", argues Quercus.

"The government should improve regulations on the installation of photovoltaic power plants and associated infrastructures", the association demands, indicating that an environmental impact assessment is only required for power plants with installed capacity of 50 megawatts or more under the general system, and 20 megawatts or more in the case of sensitive areas.

For lower power, an environmental impact assessment is only carried out and outside protected areas any power plant up to 50 megawatts only needs to be licensed by the Directorate General of Energy and Geology.

Each power plant brings "new transmission lines that require the cutting of vegetation in protection corridors around 50 metres wide along kilometres" until it reaches the point of connection to the grid.

A "bad example" given by Quercus is in the municipality of Viseu, where there is a project for the Lupina photovoltaic power plant, planned for common land in the parishes of Mundão, Abraveses and Lordosa and the union of parishes of Barreiros and Cepões, which "are subject to the forestry regime".

The environmental impact study refers to a "220-megawatt megaproject" which would involve deforestation of an area 80 percent occupied by maritime pine and oak trees "in an area with deep soil, very productive for forest growth and therefore for long-term carbon storage".

Quercus stresses that "the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests gave an unfavourable opinion to this project" and hopes that the Ministry for the Environment and Climate Action "does not approve the destruction of the forest" for a project without studying alternatives.



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