Government gets out of the way -- ABB and Vestas can proceed

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Hopes for an early start to Dutch offshore wind development have been boosted by economics minister Annemarie Jorritsma who says she will not oppose plans to build a wind farm beyond the 12 mile zone before the completion of the government's own Near Shore Windpark (NSW). Jorritsma was responding to a question in parliament.

Jorritsma subsequently clarified the relative status of the planning processes for the 100 MW near shore wind farm and other projects planned for an area referred to as sector Q7, to be developed by a consortium headed by Bunnik-based renewables consultancy E-Connection. The E-Connection consortium's two 120 MW projects some 20 kilometres off the coast in 23 metres of water are a stage further advanced than the NSW, she says, adding that such projects would in the future make "an important contribution to Dutch renewable targets."

Having carried out macro- and micro-environmental impact studies, the Q7 development is now at the "concrete-project realisation" stage, whereas the location of the site for the NSW has still to be finalised. Work on the NSW environmental impact reports can begin only once a developer has been selected through the tender process, which is expected to take place this autumn, explains E-Connection's Mathieu Kortenoever.

Kortenoever is "delighted" with the ministry's latest statements on offshore development as they seem to mark a significant reversal in policy. In October last year the ministry had appeared to endorse the conclusions of the Verbruggen commission's report on the siting of the NSW which criticised plans to build offshore projects before the completion of research on the government's NLG 430 million pilot project (Windpower Monthly, November 2000).

"Since then I think we have convinced the ministry of the economic and financial feasibility of this project and that our consortium [which includes Vestas, ABB and Smit International] can make a success of this venture. Consequently, our relations with the ministry are now excellent," says Kortenoever.

The environmental impact report required by the ministry of transport and public works was submitted in early March, he says. The planning process is hoped to be completed in the next nine months.

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