A legal battle for a view of the sea: from Quickenborn to court against a French wind farm

The federal government will be prosecuted for stopping a new wind farm near Dunkirk, which has an impact on the Flemish west coast. A complaint is also submitted to the European Commission. Vincent van Quekenborn, the Open VLD Minister for the North Sea, no longer accepted the tough position of the French. “The solution is obvious: build the wind farm a little further from the sea.”

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A maximum of 46 windmills are spread over an area of ​​about 55 square kilometers and are valid for at least 600 MW of electricity. This is the plan put in place by the French government in 2016 with developer Eoliennes and Mer de Dunkerque (EMD) for a new wind farm ten kilometers off the Dunkirk coast. This park should become effective in 2027 and can provide electricity for at least thirty years. In recent years, Oostendse Haven as well as the mayors of De Panne, Nieuwpoort and Koksijde and the Flemish and Federal governments have strongly opposed the arrival of the 300-meter-high windmills at that site. According to the mayors and the government, the sea view for the inhabitants of the Belgian coast will be very turbulent, and therefore a thorn in the side of our coastal tourism. In addition, the wind farm will be built directly into the existing shipping lanes between Ostend and the UK and there may be disruption to air traffic to and from the Koksegged military base. Rescue operations in Belgian airspace will also be at risk. © BELGABelgium I came up with an alternative proposal, a site further north with slightly smaller windmills. Despite these attempts at constructive consultation, the French did not want to compromise. At the beginning of May, they confirmed again that the plans would no longer be changed, despite several thousand objections made to a European complaint that the situation was not received well by North Sea Minister Vincent van Quekenborn (Open VLD). And now he’s heading to court, with the support of the entire federal government, to stop the construction of the Dunkirk wind farm. “Based on various legal advice, we are challenging EMD’s decision to continue anyway,” Minister Van Quekenborn said. Before July 10, he will begin legal proceedings before the Administrative Court of Lille. We will go to court because the French do not listen to our comments – Vincent van Quekenborn, Minister of the North Sea, but a complaint is also made to the European Commission because France failed for our country at the beginning of the project. Belgium should have been formally involved in defining the area for the wind farm. “That did not happen,” the North Sea minister said. France has incorrectly transferred a European directive to its internal regulations, so it has not consulted our country. That is why a complaint has been lodged with the European Commission.” Continuing consultations Minister Van Keukenborn asserts that legal procedures do not stand in the way of further “political, diplomatic and administrative consultations.” Vincent Van Keukenborn continues: “For me, dialogue remains the best and fastest way to reach to an acceptable solution.” “We think the solution is clear: if the wind farm is built deep in the sea, as is the case for our wind turbines, we have no longer any objection.” The French government wants to build a new wind farm ten kilometers off the coast of Dunkirk by The year 2027. A thorn in the side for our coastal residents, who in recent years have vocally opposed the arrival of windmills 300 meters high at that site. (picture Belga) © DENIS CLOSON BELGA “As a small country with only 67 kilometers of coastline, we have nonetheless From becoming the fifth largest producer of offshore wind energy in the world.We have tremendous experience that we can share with our French colleagues.The relocation of the park can lead to fruitful cooperation between the two countries in various fields.But since our comments are not taken into account,we forced to take this step. As Minister of the Belgian North Sea, I will do everything in my power to protect the rights of the people of the coast, the port of Ostend and all other stakeholders.”

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Megan Vasquez

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