The islands of Amorgos, Kimolos, Kithira, Sikinos and Tinos share the landscape and cultural wealth of the Cyclades, which give them an incomparable environmental value. This iconic landscape, which forms a vital part of Greek and also European identity, is formed by the harmonious coexistence between the Aegean Sea, hills, mountains, traditional settlements, monuments and archaeological sites. This multi-layered landscape is in grave danger due to proposals for the installation of numerous wind turbines in different parts of each island, often next to archaeological sites, some within protected Natura 2000 areas or as a backdrop to traditional villages.
The turbines proposed vastly exceed the islands’ actual needs and are meant to outsource energy to other Greek locations. The wind turbines will not only visually impact the islands’ landscape, but they will have effects on their morphology and climate,, endangering both their flora and fauna and, consequently, the agricultural, livestock and touristic sectors of their economies. Undoubtedly, this will diminish the landscape’s environmental and cultural value and place the livelihood of local communities at risk.
A study recently published by the University of Ioannina demonstrates that Greece can meet its EU target for the installation of renewable energy systems without any further permit for wind turbines in nature preservation areas. Elliniki Etairia “Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage” submitted a proposal to exclude nature preservation areas from the wind turbine programme to the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy.
Elliniki Etairia, Europa Nostra’s country representation in Greece, nominated these Five Southern Aegean Islands for the 7 Most Endangered Programme 2021. Elliniki Etairia has fought for a sustainable lifestyle using renewable energy since 1972. However, in the case of these Five Southern Aegean Islands, Elliniki Etairia seeks for alternative and balanced clean-energy solutions rather than wind parks, together with an in-depth consultation process with local communities and experts. Elliniki Etairia has recently been contacted by many other community groups and municipalities requesting similar advice and support.
The siting of renewable energy infrastructure in (protected) cultural landscapes is among the potential conflicts between heritage safeguarding and European Green Deal action identified in the recently launched European Cultural Heritage Green Paper “Putting Europe’s shared heritage at the heart of the European Green Deal”. This Paper reflects our firm conviction that, in the case of such tensions, ‘win-win’ scenarios are both desirable and attainable on the basis of a proper consultation process with local communities and heritage experts.