This should be the seventh French offshore wind farm and the largest with a power of 600 MW, located off Dunkirk. The call for tenders was won in June 2017 by EDF associated with the German Innogy and the Canadian Enbridge. The amount of the project is estimated at 1.4 billion euros.
It is today the subject of an unprecedented sling on the part of Belgium which is alarmed to see several dozen wind turbines erecting up to 300 meters high, the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, only 11.5 kilometers offshore.
An attack on Belgian sovereignty
In a letter addressed to the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP), Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Vincent Van Quinckenborne believes that the project is much too close to its coasts. ” Safety distance will be located in Belgian territorial waters “, He says, evoking a” serious damage ” to the ” sovereignty of the country “And denouncing a” visual pollution “.
Other Belgian elected officials are also opposed to the project. The mayors of De Panne and Nieuport, two very busy seaside resorts located on the other side of the border, are worried about the consequences on the tourist level. The mayor of Ostend is alarmed to see that the planned site is on the seaway connecting his city to Dover. The ferry line disappeared a quarter of a century ago, but the port of Ostend wants to relaunch it. The Belgian authorities are also highlighting the proximity of the future park to their Koksijde air base.
French elected officials call for a referendum
The Belgian government explains that it has nothing against offshore wind power and recalls that the country is one of the pioneers in the sector with eight parks. But all are located between 27 and 50 kilometers from the coast. In return for the abandonment of the Dunkirk project, he even proposed to France the creation of a common park. Otherwise, Belgium threatens to take the case to court.
Unlike previous calls for tenders, the definition of the area was decided directly by the State services and was not chosen by the operators, a solution which was supposed to reduce disputes.
“ The Belgians are furious and they are right. You don’t put 46 Eiffel Towers in your garden without telling your neighbor or at least warning him », Deplores the deputy and mayor of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, Christian Huttin, who calls for a local referendum. A position shared by Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts-de-France region.
Fears for biodiversity
The wind turbines will also be found in the middle of a Natura 2000 classified site. ” The area is covered by two European directives intended to protect biodiversity “, Recalled Claude Brevan, one of the four members of the Special Commission for Public Debate (CPDP) which worked on the file, during the presentation of the report, Tuesday February 16.
All bird protection organizations have expressed their incomprehension and fear irreparable damage to certain species, such as the goose barnacle. ” The choice of location for this wind farm is mind-boggling. We are in the largest European migratory corridor », Underlines Julien Piette, president of the association Le Clipon, which has identified more than 230 species crossing the strait.
A feeling of being surrounded
Many local residents are also angry at the establishment of around fifty machines 10 kilometers from the beach. The president of the CNDP, Chantal Jouanno underlines “ skepticism “And” incomprehensionn “of the population in the face of the State’s decision and” lack of environmental data on the project “.
Collective ” Standing wind ”Was formed and launched a petition having already collected 4,700 signatures in four months, assures its president François Caulier. ” Our territory is quite busy with, next to the port, an LNG terminal, an iron and steel complex and a little further away the Gravelines nuclear power plant, he explains. For the Dunkirk people, the sea is the only space that still remains virgin and these wind turbines will block their horizon, giving an even stronger feeling of being surrounded ”. The collective is preparing a legal action, in conjunction with Belgian opponents.
During the public debate, the representatives of the State recalled that the choice of this zone had been the subject of consultations with the actors of the territory as of 2015. They led to the reduction of the surface of the park and to move it away from the coast. compared to the initial project. The consortium led by EDF should say by the end of May whether it is continuing the project.