In a surprise decision the Raad van State, the highest government advisory and legal body in the Netherlands, has upheld the positive outcome of a planning application by utility NUON for a wind farm of 21 turbines on the Eemmeerdijk near Zeewolde on the southern shore of the Flevoland polder. According to NUON's director for renewable energy, Annemarie Goedmakers, the Raad van State still has to make a judgement on an environmental permit, but she is now "ninety per cent certain" that work on the project will begin in the spring. Plans for the development of the site looked to have received a fatal set-back earlier this year when government minister for agriculture, nature management and fisheries, Jozias van Aartsen, backed objections to the project lodged by a local environmental group, Milieu Federatie Flevoland, and the Bunschoten local council (Windpower Monthly, September, 1997). But the Raad van State rejected the protesters' argument that the plant's impact on the ecology of the Eemmeer nature reserve would be too great and that planning permission, which would involve "re-zoning," should therefore be refused. The council's verdict also dismissed protests from the Dutch bird protection association, which fears that the 50 metre mast height of the turbines will result in high bird death rates.
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