Belgium opposes French windmill plans at public consultation

Belgium will file objections against French plans to build a wind farm off the coast of Dunkirk, near the Belgian border, during a public consultation that starts on Monday. The objections concern problems regarding shipping, safety, nature and sea views.

The French government wants to build 46 wind turbines with a maximum height of 300m above sea level. According to North Sea minister Paul Van Tigchelt, this plan “threatens to affect several fundamental Belgian interests including freedom and safety of shipping, air traffic safety, rescue at sea, the marine environment and the sea view of coastal residents”.

The wind turbines threaten to make two historic shipping routes from the port of Ostend unusable, he said. Moreover, they would compromise the safety of shipping and cause visual pollution for residents of the coastal municipalities of De Panne, Koksijde and Nieuwpoort. The planned wind farm would also have an impact on marine protected areas, as it would be located in the French Natura 2000 site Bancs des Flandres and next to the Belgian Natura 2000 site Vlaamse Banken.

The federal government is proposing to build the wind farm 5km deeper into the sea. This alternative solution “would eliminate practically all objections”, Van Tigchelt said. “As the sixth largest offshore wind energy producer in the world, Belgium has a lot of expertise on the matter and remains willing to cooperate with French colleagues on this."

The Belgian government has been opposing the windmill plans since 2016. But both the French Council of State and the European Commission stated that Belgium should express its objections during a public consultation organised to obtain the environmental permit. That consultation round started on Monday and runs until 18 May.


#FlandersNewsService | A wind farm off the coast of France © BELGA PHOTO LOIC VENANCE / AFP

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