Proposed wind farms on Lesvos

153 turbines,  c.100 km of access roads and 20,000 m3 of land to be removed in the west of the island

Map showing proposed wind farms in western Lesvos: blocked areas are individual groups of turbines; the yellow line is the cross island route the generated electricity line will follow as it is brought in and off the island (red lines) from Limnos and Chios and back to mainland Greece.
Map taken from ΤΕΧΝΙΚΗ ΕΚΘΕΣΗ  | ΑΗΟΛΗΚΩΝ ΠΑΡΚΩΝ, ΣTH NHΣ Ο ΛEΣΒΟ, ΣYNOΛIKHΣ, ΣXYOΣ 306 MW | Έργοσ της ΑΗΓΑIΑΣ ZΕYΤΞHΣ - an official publication of ROKAS Renewables (An Iberdrola Renewables Company)

You may not be aware that the Spanish energy company, Iberdrola, plans to place 153 huge turbines in the western part of the island. The turbines will be placed on the summits of many of the mountains in the area, with the exception of those in the petrified forest. To accommodate the turbines and to allow for their construction, placement and maintenance, the summits will be flattened and c. 100 km of new roads will be built. Materials and construction vehicles will require the new roads up to the summits to be 5 to 10 metres wide. 

The dimensions of each of the 153 turbines is:
Height = 67m
Weight = 145 tonnes
Blade length = 39m
Rotation of blades = 80m
Generator = Gamesa G80-2.0 MW
For full specification of these turbines see here.

This is an enormous project.

The construction and access impact of these projects are now seen to be just as important, it not more so, than the operational impact of wind farms. A paper published in March 2012 covers this important aspect of wind farms:

Greater impacts of wind farms on bird populations during construction than subsequent operation: results of a multi-site and multi-species analysis by James Pearce-Higgins, Leigh Stephen, Andy Douse & Rowena Langston

You are no doubt very familiar with the western part of Lesvos and will understand that this development is completely out of scale for the area. The development will impact on the fragile phrygana scrub area of the island, found mainly in the west of the island, and which is the characteristic habitat of this region of Lesvos. 

More urgently and to the point, this proposed development will be placed directly onto the densest breeding territory of the endangered Cinereous Bunting. The tops of hills, exactly the sites chosen for this project, are the preferred nesting grounds for the breeding pairs of this species. Lesvos holds c.98% of the European population (the remainder are on Chios – also to be developed as part of this project, see below) and it is estimated that up to 50% of the breeding population will be affected by this development.

As you know, there are many other species of birds dependent on this area, such as, Cretzchmar's Bunting, Eleanora's Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Kestral and Peregrine Falcon, to name only a few, in addition to the flora and fauna found throughout this phrygana region of the island. The wind turbine construction would radically alter the delicate ecology of the island's west.

The first environmental studies have been completed and conclude that there will be no negative effect on the Cinereous Bunting, even though there own studies indicate at least 15% of the Cinereous Bunting's most favourable breeding habitat will be lost. Their conclusion is that the overall effect on the birds will be negligible. It is not surprising, given the facts, as outlined above, that we and Greek ornithologists dispute this conclusion.

The project is timetabled to begin in 1–2 years.

While this is the immediate concern, it should be noted that this is the first step of a larger scheme that would place turbines in incremental numbers on Lesvos, Chios and Limnos. The plan for Limnos would involve 440 huge turbines and would cover 700 hectares of land. Limnos has the largest wetlands in the Aegean region and rare natural saltpans. Other energy sector plans involve massive solar farms and the damming of rivers in the northern parts of Greece, all of which would destroy birding habitats forever.
Economic turmoil and unrest have caused tourism in Greece to decrease by 30%. Lesvos is not immune to this and tourism this year is expected to be at an all-time low. The island's wonderfully varied and rich habitats make it a birder's delight. Because so many birders visit Lesvos, birding is a significant part of the overall tourism and for some areas, it is now the primary tourism activity. This proposed wind turbine development would greatly impact on not only a critical habitat and region of the island, but also of the economic benefit the island derives from birding tourism which will directly impact on the lives of hundreds of Lesvos residents.

Also, it must be stressed that this is not going to be a large employer for locals or with large local benefits - the development managed from off-island and the electricity being cabled back to the mainland. The benefits for the island are absolutely minimal.

The local ornithologists fighting this project need your help. Please help in any or all of the following ways:

1 | Contact hotel owners, taverna owners and local tourism leaders that you know of and currently use, to let them know that the degradation and loss of habitat involved in this project will make Lesvos less attractive to birders and will inevitably affect their businesses. It will most certainly cause an overall reduction in the tourism industry in Lesvos, particularly birdwatchers and other wildlife tourists.

2 | Contact the Minister of Regional Development & Competitiveness for Greece

Anna Diamantopoulos:
Let her know of the serious impact of this project. The habitat loss and resultant biodiversity loss will cause an economic cost that Lesvos can ill-afford. Long term plans for the project will cause even greater damage to Greece's economy. Moreover, such a project is directly counter to the European Parliament's stand on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

3 | Contact the European Commissioner for the Environment
Janez Potocnik:

4 | Contact Gerben Jan Gerbrandy - author of the report on EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and Member of the European Parliament (MEP)

5 | Contact the following from BirdLife International / Europe:

Alistair Taylor (RSPB EU Biodiversity Policy Officer) -

Ian Burfield (BirdLife) - 

Jose Tavares (RSPB, UK) -

Thanos Kastritis (Greece) -

6 | Kakalis Eleftherios (University of the Aegean on Lesvos) -

Suggested points to highlight:

 * the nature of the project; its huge impact on the island of Lesvos, in particular, on the island's birds, especially the endangered Cinereous Bunting (as outlined above)

 * the incompatible nature of the project in terms of the economic sustainability of the overall tourism industry in Greece and the particular economies of the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Limnos
 * the negative impact the project will have on the islands tourism economy by impacting on future birding tourism

 * the future, devastating economic impact of the next steps of the project on the Greece's tourism industry

 * the incompatible nature of the project in terms of the EU's international commitments under the Convention of Biodiversity
 * the urgent need to put a halt to this project

The deadline for submissions is 20 July 2012 - please act now!

Thank you for your concern. Should you wish, please feel free to contact Jan regarding this important issue. Let her know if you have suggestions for additional ways we can help.

Jan Doherty | Toronto, Canada
Steve Dudley Lesvos Birding

Bird news - May 2012 summary

Griffon Vultures, Ipsilou 3 Aug © Jonathan Norgate

All sightings of single birds unless otherwise stated. Sightings taken from OrnithTopos (all Terry Robinson) unless indicated.

Ruddy Shelduck
Mesa: 5 on 23 Jul (also seen Kalloni Saltpans on 20 Jul) (Jonathan Norgate)

Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 10 & 27 Jul

Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 17 on 13 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Little Grebe
Perasma Reservoir: 52 on 31 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Great Crested Grebe
Perasma Reservoir: 1 on 31 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Scopoli's Shearwater
Several seen along north coast 21 Jul - 4 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Yelkouan Shearwater
Seen along north coast 21 Jul - 4 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Greater Flamingo
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 6 on 13 Aug

Black Stork
Kalloni Saltpans: Max. 52 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 5 on 4 Aug

White Stork
Kalloni Saltpans: Max. 17 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 1 on 28 Jul

Great White Egret
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 3 on 2 Aug

Little Egret
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 26 on 9 Aug
Kalloni Saltpans: Max. 11 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Ipsilou: 1 on 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Griffon Vulture
Ipsilou: 2 on 29 Jul & 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Montagu's Harrier
Kalloni Saltpans: 1 2CY male 28 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Levant Sparrowhawk
Anaxos: 1 on 2 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Aghios Taxiarchis: 1 on 27 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Long-legged Buzzard
Seen daily through the north and wast of island 25 Jul - 4 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Lesser Kestrel
Singles seen Kavaki (25 Jul), Anaxos (26 Jul), Sigri Fields (29 Jul) and Petrfied Forest (29 Jul) (Jonathan Norgate)

Eleonora's Falcon
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 1 on 1 Aug
Singles seen Anaxos (25 Jul), Molivos (25 Jul), Aghios Taxiarchis (27 Jul) and Ipsilou (29 Jul) (Jonathan Norgate)

Peregrine Falcon
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 1 on 6 Jul
Anaxos: 1 on 22 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)
Kavaki: 1 on 22 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Short-toed Eagle
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 11 Aug

Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 5 on 28 Jul
Polichnitos Saltpans: 2 on 23 Jul

Black-winged Stilt
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 92 on 23 Jul

Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 149 on 2 Aug

Common Ringed Plover
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1-2 30 Jul to 13 Aug and also seen Kalloni Saltpans 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Eurasian Curlew
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 9 Aug

Spotted Redshank
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 3-7 Jul
Kalloni Saltpans: 3 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Marsh Sandpiper
Polichnitos Saltpans: 2 on 11 Aug

Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 15 on 6 Aug
Kalloni Saltpans: max. 34 on 27 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Wood Sandpiper
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 8 on 9 Aug
Kalloni Saltpans: max. 9 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)
Perasma: 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Common Sandpiper
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 6 on 2 Aug
Kalloni Saltpans: max.59 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Temminck's Stint
Kalloni Saltpans: 2 on 27 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Little Stint
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 46 on 14 Aug

Kalloni Saltpans: 3 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Curlew Sandpiper
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1-2 on 19-20 Jul
Perasma Reservoir: 1 on 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Broad-billed Sandpiper
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 11-12 Aug

Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 9-13 Aug

Slender-billed Gull
Polichnitos Saltpans: 3 on 9 Jul

Mediterranean Gull
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 46 on 14 Aug

Sandwich Tern
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 29 on 27 Jul

Scops Owl
Soumouria: 3-5 heard and 2 seen 23 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Skala Polichnitou: 1 to at least 13 Aug
3 Petra 28 Jul, 1 dead Sigri Fields 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Turtle Dove
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 8 on 14 Aug
3 Petra 28 Jul, 1 dead Sigri Fields 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Alpine Swift
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 48 on 16 Jul
Flocks of up to 30 along north coast 21 Jul - 4 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Common Swift
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 182 on 6 Jul

Flocks of 100+ 21 Jul - 4 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Common Kingfisher
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 30 Jul

Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 4 on 3 Aug

Red-backed Shrike
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 3-5 Aug
1 Ipsilou 29 Jul and 1 Aghios Taxiarchis 1 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Lesser Grey Shrike
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 3 on 7-9 Aug
Kalloni Saltpans: 1 on 30 Jul

Woodchat Shrike
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 12 on 6 Aug

Masked Shrike
Polichnitos Saltpans: Max. 2 on 14 Jul

Crag Martin
20+ Lardia Valley 24 & 29 Jul and 5 Kavaki 25 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Polichnitos Saltpans: present to 3 Aug at least

Icterine Warbler
Skala Polichnitou: 1 on 10 Aug

Willow Warbler
Polichnitos Saltpans: present to 14 Aug at least

Eastern Orphean Warbler
2 Anaxos 22 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Common Whitethroat
Polichnitos Saltpans: present to 13 Aug at least

Ruppell's Warbler
1 Kavaki 25 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

Subalpine Warbler
Polichnitos Saltpans: present to 8 Aug at least

Rufous Bush-robin
1 Sigri Fields 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Common Nightingale
Skala Polichnitou: 1 on 9 Aug

Common Redstart
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 14 Aug

Polichnitos Saltpans: present to 14 Aug at least

Common Stonechat
Polichnitos Saltpans: present from 4 Aug

Isabelline Wheatear
5+ Petrified Forest 29 Jul & 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Northern Wheatear
Polichnitos Saltpans: max. 6 on 8 Aug
4 Petrified Forest 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Black-eared Wheatear
Polichnitos Saltpans: 1 on 12 Aug

Collared Flycatcher
2 Lardia Valley 29 Jul & 3 Ipsilou 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Collared Flycatcher
Polichnitos Saltpans: 11 on 10 Aug

Spanish Sparrow
Polichnitos Saltpans: 2 on 4 Jul
1 Kalloni Saltpans 79 Jul & 1 Sigri Fields 29 Jul (Jonathan Norgate)

White Wagtail
Polichnitos Saltpans: max. 6 on 11 Jul

Yellow Wagtail
Polichnitos Saltpans: present from 13 Aug

Corn Bunting
Polichnitos Saltpans: max. 121 on 16 Jul

Cinereous Bunting
1 Ipsilou 3 Aug (Jonathan Norgate)

Cretzschmar's Bunting
Polichnitos Saltpans: max. 20 on 12 Aug

Black-headed Bunting
Polichnitos Saltpans: max. 4 on 15-18 Jul