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D-Day for European siting issues

Any planned development that potentially affects a site of historical significance will always stir up controversy, but will a large-scale wind farm proposal off the northern coast of France – visible from the D-Day landing beaches – have further reaching implications for an industry already struggling with public concern over its effect on the local environment?

Wind farms will always have their share of detractors. One of the great arguments for the naysayers has always been the visual impact the farms have on the local environment. The issue has been brought to the fore after President Sarkozy announced – as part of a multi-billion dollar offshore development plan – to build a wind farm off the northern coast of France. One of the sites – between Juno and Omaha beaches – has caused the greatest criticism. The fact that the site would be just visible from the D-day beaches has caused uproar amongst veterans and historical campaign groups who consider the development an insult.

With nuclear power the dominant energy source, France currently has no sea-based turbines and is seeking to catch up with its neighbours Britain and Germany, who have embraced the technology to the extent that President Sarkozy announced a €10bn plan to build five giant arrays of generators off the French Atlantic seaboard from 2015.

Officials insist the generators, two-thirds the height of the Eiffel Tower, will only just be visible from the coast, but the leader of an official commemorative association and a militant ecologists’ group said yesterday that France was failing in its duty to preserve the memory of D-Day, and the “essential character” of the five landing beaches on which 2,500 allied soldiers died on 6th June, 1944.

The choice of the site, 11 kilometres off Courseulles-sur-Mer (Juno Beach), was “inappropriate and incoherent”, Admiral Christian Brac de la Perrière, the president of the Comité du Débarquement, the official French body for commemorating D-Day, said yesterday.


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