Chancellor Angela Merkel with an off-shore windpark miniature at the Baltic Sea in Zingst

Germany gives green light to offshore windparks

Germany is paving the way for new offshore windparks by cutting red tape on the approval process.

A new bill has been drafted to give all responsibility for deciding on new windpark projects to just one state authority, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH).

"This is a key first step towards a new energy concept by the federal government," transportation minister Peter Ramsauer said.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been eager to shift her conservative party's image away from supporting nuclear energy.

She travelled to the Baltic Sea coast earlier this week to attend a ceremony marking the first operational commercial offshore windpark dubbed "Baltic 1".

Previously, a nature conservancy state authority had to review the impact on fish and seabirds to give formal approval, but this will be changed to a simple position paper that it submits to the BSH.

The simplification has earned praise from the windpark lobby.

"The ambitious target of the federal government to install an offshore wind energy capacity of 10,000 megawatts by 2020 must not fail because differing authorities are jockeying for influence," said Hermann Albers, head of the German wind energy industry association BWE, whose 3,000 corporate members include Siemens, Vestas and Enercon.

The target capacity corresponds to the output from about 10 nuclear power plants.

"The industry requires clear and reliable approval processes," he said, adding that barriers to approval for windparks on land still needed to be removed.

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