Charter flights for sightseers

Wind Iberica, the controversial Spanish wind power developer, wants to launch a project combining wind and tourism in one of the most visible areas Tarifa municipality. The mayor of Tarifa is not likely to be taken in by talk of charter flights of Danish tourists flocking to see a wind turbine running in Tarifa.

Wind Iberica, a controversial wind power developer in Spain which has snapped up acres of Tarifa land, now wants to launch a project combining wind and tourism. It has plans to erect a single Vestas-Gamesa Eolica 1.5 MW turbine in one of the most visible areas of the wind-swept Tarifa municipality for the double purpose of drawing sightseers and producing power, reports the Europa Sur local newspaper.

"It will cause such an impact in the wind power and financial communities, we are negotiating a deal for weekly charter flights to bring 50 to 80 people a week from Denmark to visit Tarifa to see the site," is the eyebrow-raising claim of Iberica's technical director of wind, Jose Illanes. The claim was part of the published request for permission to build the project made to Tarifa mayor Jose Fuentes Pacheco.

Illanes, a Spanish born naturalised Dane, added that Danish visitors would bring with them much needed kroner to help boost the tourist industry in winter months. He also said the machine would have a permanently manned control and display centre to help the visitors understand the wonders of wind power.

Gamesa Eolica director, Juan Ramon Jimenez, says his company's only involvement would be to supply the turbine. He had no further details about the operation. Last month there was no official response to Illanes' proposal from the Town Hall, but it seems unlikely that Illanes' sales talk will wash with Fuentes. The wily mayor, with several years wind experience under his belt, is not likely to be taken in by talk of Danish tourists flocking to Tarifa to see a wind turbine running in their own country.

Meantime, a local bird group has made a prior claim to the site earmarked for the project. Thousands of birds fly over the straits of Gibraltar immediately opposite Tarifa all year round. "It's a tragedy," says Christina Parkes, who guides dozens of ornithologists around the area every year. "It's Town Hall land and we were hoping the community would make a gesture to allow us to use the site for scientific observation and not put up yet another wind turbine."