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46 windmills up to 300 meters high will be located off coast of Dunkirk, 10 kilometres away from the Belgian coast

Flanders joins lawsuit against French wind farm

Flanders joins lawsuit against French wind farm

Tourist towns like De Panne and Ostend are threatened

The tourist town of De Panne in Belgium is trying to preserve its coastline from encroachment by a French windfarm. The windmills will be built in French territorial waters near Dunkirk - 10 kilometers away from the Belgian coast.

The lawsuit was started by the Belgian Minister of Justice and North Sea Vincent Van Quickenborne. It is also now seeing backing from the regional government of Flanders.

Why should Belgium care?

The Flemish Broadcasting service, VRT reported that according to Minister Van Qickenborne there a number of reasons that Belgium does not accept this project. One is that the windfarms will be an eyesore for the tourist town.

This does not sound like a real problem, yet when considering the factors determining the success or failure of a tourist destination, aesthetics play a critical role. This means that the windmills could potentially be damaging to the economy of De Panne and the region.

At the same time, the sea installation interrupts the historic sailing route between the port of Ostend, a bigger town nearby, and Britain.

According to Belgian complaints, the windfarm also causes problems for air traffic, as the windmills are 300 meters tall and are in French Territorial waters, and yet also in Belgian airspace.  

Furthermore, the windfarm will have a detrimental impact on the Flemish sandbanks, a group of sand deposits in the North Sea that form a protected nature reserve.

5 kilometres can make a big difference

Minister Van Qickenborne claimed that if the enterprise places the windmills 5 kilometres further into the sea, the whole thing would not be a problem. He emphasized France’s stubborn refusal to accept any compromise on the matter, forcing legal action.

The developer decided to continue the project according to the original plan and a lawsuit is now being launched against them, with the support of The Minister-President of Flanders Jan Jambon.

The Belgian state will challenge the developer EDM in the administrative court in Lille and will file a complaint against France in the European Commission. Their reasoning behind that is, reportedly, a violation of EU law, according to which neighbouring countries must consult with each other on such decisions.

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