The papers are currently full of news about proposals to mount wind turbines on the beaches of Normandy – including at least one of the D-Day landing beaches.
Some newspapers are calling it an “invasion” – emotional words, and this is a very provocative subject.
The proposal is to erect 75 of the huge wind turbines (approximately 180m high I’ve read) several miles out to sea – “6 to 10 miles off the coast of Calvados by Courseulles-sur-Mer, covering a total area of 50km².” Apparently they will be visible from the beaches and the plan is to erect them in 2015, the year after the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day beach landings.
Courseulles-sur-Mer is the location of Juno Beach, site of the Canadian armed forces landing in June 1944; Wikipedia’s description of Juno Beach reads “There is little development here, so nothing interrupts your contemplation of beach and ocean. You can imagine the sands littered with mines-on-sticks, spiky metal “hedgehogs”, barbed wire and other barbarisms intended to rip the heart out of landing craft and the 14,000 Canadians that landed in this area”. With the installation of the wind farm – this description will need to be radically updated.
We’re told that some local people are onside – it means jobs and in times of recession such as France is currently going through – you can understand that they are keen on that aspect, though I wonder how much tourism in the area would be affected by the change – also a major source of jobs.
On the whole though everyone I have spoken to is against such a move.
The D-Day landing beaches are one of the most visited sites of Normandy, every year hundreds of thousands of French and foreigners come to remember, to pay their respects. The area has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
French groups are forming to protest against such a move and European Platform Against Windfarms has set up an online petition against the Normandy beaches wind turbine plan and say that thousands are signing up to it.
There are a series of public debates going on in Normandy to consider the proposals which have been brought to the table by a consortium of German, Dutch and French businesses.
The commission managing the public debate states in their first newsletter “The public debate process is open to all. The location of the project off the D-day landing beaches fully justiﬁes the participation of any British, Canadian and American nationals who may have concerns”.
This one looks set to become a huge topic of discussion – my French friends and neigbours as well as my foreign friends and neighbours have differing opinions as to why not to go ahead but all of them are against the proposal and wonder why the installations can’t be placed somewhere less inflammatory.
A similar proposal bought last year to erect wind turbines within sight of Mont St Michel was unsuccessful when UNESCO threatened to pull the plug on the famous island’s World Heritage Site status.
Loos, in northern France is also under consideration for wind turbines – the site of a major battlefield in World War I, this has also raised public opposition and is currently on hold.