For many years, there has been a great concern in Paros that the installation of giant wind turbines on several locations in Paros will be realised one day causing irreversible damage to the character of the island and its tourism-based economy. The original permits issued by the Energy Regulator (RAE) in 2010 envisaged the installation of nearly 100 wind turbines (105 m height, 71 m diameter) on four islands (Andros, Tinos, Paros and Naxos) together with an independent interconnector with mainland Greece. Throughout this period, the people of Paros and the other affected islands have fought against the realisation of this project, launching appeals before the Council of State (CoS) against the second-stage approval (environmental impact) by the Μinistry of Εnvironment. Its implementation has been delayed and the project has been modified several times reducing the total number of wind turbines on Paros from 32 to 22.
Until recently, there was the expectation that, in accordance with the existing long-standing regulations, the RAE was about to rescind the original permits due to the lapse of time since their issuance. On the contrary, in October, RAE reissued the permits using a new legal provision. In doing so, it removed the obligation of the investors to construct a separate interconnector and offered them instead to use part of the capacity of the recently inaugurated and publicly funded interconnector. This has made the project financially more attractive and faster to implement. Moreover, by reverting to the original form of the permits we are back at a situation where 32 wind turbines are allowed on eight different mountain tops in Paros (two permits each for 16 turbines or a total of 36 MW).
RAE allowed just one month for objections. On 22.11.2021, 25 Parian associations including the FoPA and 11 citizens jointly submitted an appeal against the renewal of the permits and, if RAE rejects this appeal, the matter will be taken further at the administrative court of appeal.
The situation is very complicated. The appeals before the Council of State against the previous second-stage approvals of environmental impact are still outstanding. If the CoS rejects the appeals the infrastructure works could start straightaway and the wind turbines could arrive in Paros within weeks.
A further threat is also coming from the “salami tactics” allowed by recent changes to the regulations. Basically, no second-stage approval of environmental impact is required for smaller projects of a total capacity of less than 10 MW, i.e. projects involving fewer (not necessarily smaller wind turbines) so long the has come from new application for smaller projects. This has opened the door to new applications and already two such applications are with RAE concerning smaller projects on the mountaintop above the Monastery of Ag. Anargyroi in Parikia.
It is obvious from these latest developments that the fight against the wind turbines that will disfigure Paros is far from over and the cooperation and joint action by the Parians and their local organisations must continue and intensify in 2022.