Expatica news

Permit for controversial windmill park revoked

16 August 2005

BRUSSELS — The federal government has revoked the permit issued for the construction of a controversial windmill park off the coast at Knokke.

The decision almost certainly spells the definitive end to the project of Seanergy, a consortium of energy company Electrabel and dredging firm Jan De Nul, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Tuesday.

Seanergy was awarded a permit in 2002 to build a wind-energy park several kilometres off the coast at Knokke on the sandbank Vlakte van de Raan.

The project would have involved the construction of 50 wind turbines with a capacity of 2 megawatt for the cost of EUR 220 million.
However, residents and local authorities were fiercely critical of the project, claiming it would amount to sight pollution.

Environmental groups and the fishing industry feared negative consequences for the environment also.

The Council of State then revoked the permit at the start of 2003 on request of a Knokke resident who lodged legal action with the support of the city council.

She was later backed up by the province of West Flanders, the Sea Fisheries Fund and the Dutch municipality of Vlissingen.

However, the Council of State overturned its decision in a surprise ruling last month, effectively giving Seanergy the green light for its windmill park.

Moreover, there was also a significant chance the council would in future give a positive assessment to other cases.

But the government has stepped in definitively revoked the permit, stressing that the project was not sustainable due to public protest.

The area around where the windmills were to be constructed has now reportedly been declared a habitat zone.

The government has stipulated that Thornton Bank — which is much further out to sea — should be an exclusive zone for wind energy.

Electrabel is now considering the ruling and counting the costs of the current project.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news