However, it is imperative that the effort of speeding up infrastructure deployment for developing and integrating renewables is connected to nature and biodiversity restoration. This means that REPowerEU and the definition of ‘renewables go-to areas’ need to be very strongly linked to the upcoming EU Nature Restoration Targets and the activities required to achieve both objectives need to be planned coherently and jointly.
Speeding up renewables and grid infrastructure deployment and defining ‘go-to areas’ are essential but it is a delicate process. If not done in a balanced way, it may rather lead to further delays than acceleration. This also holds true when invoking reasons of ‘Overriding Public Interest’, which needs to be weighed carefully, especially in connection with the definition of ‘go-to-areas’.
When linking the acceleration of electricity infrastructure deployment and nature restoration, it is important that active restoration and related measures are planned in a coherent way across national borders and with an ecosystem-based approach that ultimately leads to a net gain for nature. This will require adequate data, political support and initiatives for environmental and biodiversity protection at regional level – similar to political, energy and technological initiatives such as the Pentalateral Forum and the North Seas Energy Cooperation.
Additionally, implementation of both infrastructure projects and nature restoration measures need to be embedded into a well-functioning stakeholder engagement process, and tangible and perceived local benefits need to be created as an integral part of this process.