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France

French courts give Saint-Brieuc the green light

France could finally start offshore construction next year after the country's highest court rejects latest challenge against Iberdrola's Saint Brieuc project

France's highest court rejected the latest legal challenge against the St Brieuc project (pic: wikimediacommons)
France's highest court rejected the latest legal challenge against the St Brieuc project (pic: wikimediacommons)

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The French 496MW Saint Brieuc Saint Brieuc (496MW) Offshoreoff Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, France, Europe Click to see full details offshore wind farm off Brittany has cleared its last legal hurdle in the French courts, paving the way for construction to start in mid-2021.

On 2 December, France's highest administrative court rejected an appeal lodged by a group of local opponents against the decision to authorise the project, the latest in a series of attempts to stop it being built, on grounds including an announcement by developer Ailes Marines that it was modifying the type of turbines it planned to use.

"We are delighted about this decision which confirms our company's full compliance with the very demanding administrative processes set out for the development of offshore wind farms in France," developer Ailes Marines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iberdrola, said a press statement following this decision.

The go-ahead means that building of the 496MW offshore windfarm can kick off as planned in the middle of next year. Saint-Brieuc, one of seven future offshore wind farms in France, was originally planned to have 62 8MW Adwen turbines. However, following SGRE's decision to discontinue the Adwen turbines, it will now use the same number of SG 8.0-167DD turbines.

Since it was awarded in 2012, the project has met with vigorous opposition from the fishing industry, environmental groups and local politicians on the grounds that it will damage the ecosystem and lead to job losses.

In November 2019, a group of local fishermen took the matter to the European Court of Justice. They challenged the public aid given to Ailes Marine for Saint Brieuc, but also to developers for five other offshore windfarms at Fécamp, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Saint- Nazaire, Dieppe-Le Tréport and Yeu-Noirmoutier.

The court's decision, however, will not be known before construction starts and cannot prevent the project's execution.

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