Government looks at potential for wind development in Waddenzee nature park

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The Dutch government is taking a fresh look at the potential for wind development in the Waddenzee area -- believed to be the largest nature park in western Europe -- though it is still respecting a 1977 trilateral treaty between Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands that wind turbines cannot be placed in the Waddenzee itself because it would disturb the character of the open landscape. Four years ago any question of wind park development was found to be an extremely sensitive issue but it now seems the government is having a rethink. In 2002, a plan for the Waddenzee was put forward by several northern Dutch provinces to build 106 wind turbines in the area. Environmentalists estimated at the time that at least 14,000 birds could die if such a plan was implemented. The discussion, however, was never really concluded due to a change of government. A study looking at the placement of wind turbines in the neighbourhood had previously found that it was "not desirable" to have turbines near the Afsluitdijk -- the huge dam keeping the North Sea out of Holland. Reading between the lines, it seems the Dutch state has recognised that provinces in the area will not be able to realise their government-set targets for 1500 MW of wind power capacity by 2010 if there is an absolute ban on development around the Afsluitdijk. A decision is expected some time this year. The government has stated that it will invest EUR 800 million in the renewable economy in the Waddenzee area, which will include placing wind turbines.

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