League for the Protection of Nature’s comment regarding the Public Consultation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Execution Project of the Santas Photovoltaic Solar Power Plant and respective power evacuation electric line.
The Santas Photovoltaic Solar Plant and associated Electrical Line will be implemented in two separate parcels, one with 269 ha and another with 87.6 ha, in the Monforte and Borba municipalities. The project also includes the construction of one electrical line connecting both parcels and an evacuation electrical line at 400 kV, with about 4.98 km length.
The promotion of renewable energies proposed by photovoltaic projects is beneficial, but, considering the high number of projects being developed without being supported by land management, it is urgent that governmental entities carry out a more comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of these types of infrastructures (including corridors connecting the energy transportation and distribution networks), aiming at minimizing the negative environmental impacts that these can generate in certain areas with greater sensitivity.
Although this Photovoltaic Power Plant is not in a Classified Area of the National Network of Protected Areas or Natura 2000, it is located near and between two Natura 2000 areas. It is foreseen that the electric line of very high tension that will be constructed for the transportation of the produced energy will have significant impacts for birds, particularly steppe birds like the little and the great Bustards, since these species move between the areas surrounding this future electric line (namely the SPA Veiros and SPA Vilar Fernando).
Considering the current situation of decline of some steppe birds, namely the great and the little bustard, and in the present context of climate change, it is necessary to ensure a good management of areas of occurrence and corridors between them, regarding disturbance sources and potential mortality.
In parallel with the environmental issues, LPN also alerts the negative social impact associated to the great expansion of the solar parks in the interior that can contribute to increasing the depopulation of these already very abandoned areas. For that, it is necessary to create adequate policies that support farmers who stay in these interior areas and who practice an agriculture that promotes biodiversity, but that is hardly competitive compared to the renting values that solar parks are offering.
Considering the above, it is LPN’s understanding that the Santas Photovoltaic Solar Plant Project and respective Electrical Energy Evacuation Line should receive an unfavorable technical opinion.
LPN’s technical advice – complete version of the document (PDF in Portuguese)
3rd October 2020
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