The paradox of EU funding going to projects which threaten areas supposedly under EU protection has been around for a long time, but this analysis by BirdLife International in cooperation with a number of Brussels-based NGOs, including T&E, indicates the enormity of the problem.
The report says 379 special protection areas (SPAs) and 935 sites of Community importance (or potential sites) are likely to be affected by the 21 of the 30 trans-European transport network priority projects. As nine of the 30 projects were not analysed, the total number of sites under serious threat could be even higher.
BirdLife says some of the most threatened birds in Europe as well as countless pristine and biodiverse habitats could be put at risk if the TEN priority projects go ahead unchanged.
The report highlights that all means of transport have environmental impacts, including rail despite its lower emissions per passenger. It says transport projects must be developed as sustainably as possible to reduce the potential impact on other environmental resources.
T&E director Jos Dings said: 'The history of Europe's priority transport infrastructure projects is a classic example of old-fashioned political horse-trading. The projects were chosen behind closed doors and pushed through without consideration of the economic and environmental risks.
'It's now time for a root-and-branch review of how these megaprojects get picked. It’s not hard to get it right and avoid conflicts – the EU just needs to follow its own rules.'
Among the report's recommendations are that biodiversity considerations are taken into account at the earliest stage of work on a transport project, and that EU funding should be better scrutinised to ensure it doesn't go to projects which damage sites under protection of the EU's Natura 2000 scheme.