Dutch cabinet pushes ahead with controversial wind farm

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The cabinet has decided to press ahead with its controversial plan for a major wind farm near the town of Urk in the Noordoostpolder. Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen and Environment Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen on Thursday formally presented the definitive plan for the wind farm, which will feature 86 windmills along the dyke to the north of Urk: 38 ashore and 48 in the IJsselmeer.

However, the people of Urk have been strongly opposed to the plan ever since it was first presented 12 years ago. This summer, former economic affairs minister Maria Verhoeven scrapped seven windmills from the original plan after parliament asked her to take the protected view of the village of Urk into consideration

The Noordoostpolder wind farm - the Netherlands' largest - is to produce 1.4 billion kilowatt-hours, sufficient for the energy needs of about 900,000 people. Minister Verhagen said the project fits perfectly with the cabinet's energy policies. "The wind farm is a step on the road to affordable, reliable and clean energy. The Netherlands needs a sensible mix of wind, natural gas, coal, biomass and nuclear energy. There are downsides to all forms of energy, including wind power."

Mr Verhagen argued that the cabinet has carefully weighed the various interests and has met the objections of the people of Urk wherever possible. "Which is why the seven windmills nearest the village were scrapped."

However, the plan still meets with massive opposition from the people of Urk. The wind farm is to be constructed no more than two kilometres from Urk, and the residents fear the protected view of their village will be ruined. On top of which, much to the chagrin of the mayor and the local council, Urk was never a party to discussion about the plans, because none of the windmills will actually be situated on its territory.

The council of Urk has made a number of unsuccessful attempts to block construction of the wind farm. Earlier this week Mayor Jaap Kroon announced he would present his grievances to the Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the government from forging ahead with its plans.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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