European nature laws ‘no barrier’ to energy ‘projects of common interest’

September 23,2015

Transmission grid operators and environmental groups teamed up in the EU project BESTGRID to jointly develop and test better practices in electricity grid development. This successful collaboration has confirmed that electricity ‘projects of common interest’ can be implemented in line with existing EU nature conservation legislation. To mark the final conference of the BESTGRID project, two handbooks are today being launched in Brussels. The recommendations are relevant for the European Commission’s on-going Fitness Check of EU nature legislation.

Since it began in 2013, the BESTGRID project, co-funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, has succeeded in bringing together project promoters and environmental and local stakeholders at an early stage. It has also encouraged more open and transparent planning procedures. Experiences from five pilot projects in Belgium, Germany and the UK resulted in a number of key findings:


  • Current EU legislation is beneficial for reducing environmental impacts, provides greater investor certainty, facilitates route planning and builds a clear framework for efficient planning procedures.
  • Ecologically sustainable development of electricity infrastructure, which is needed for the transition to renewable energy, requires clear and stable policy frameworks.
  • More transparent and meaningful planning processes help to increase support amongst civil society.


These insights are vital for the development of ‘projects of common interest’ implemented under the guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN-E legislation). As a result, the BESTGRID consortium strongly recommends building on the lessons learned in the two and a half years of the project. The lessons are applicable for TSOs, NGOs and all other stakeholders. Their application will result in sustaining and developing both the European biodiversity as well as the European energy transition. 

Two members of the BESTGRID consortium, environmental NGOs Germanwatch and BirdLife Europe, developed the two parts of the handbook:



They summarise recommendations derived from BESTGRID’s pilot projects and an on-going European exchange of best practices.

For further information, please contact:
Theresa Schneider, Renewables Grid Initiative
Mobile: +49 162 2056686
Email: theresa(at)