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Concern in the Netherlands about the visual impact of nine wind turbines on an artistic sculpture has halted their construction in the Nijerkerker polder. The modern piece of art -- straddling a dike which keeps the Waddensea out of Friesland -- is now standing in the way of Friesland's aim to install 200 MW of wind power by 2000.

The building permit for the Nijerkerker project was suspended by a court of law after application by Ids Willemsma, an artist who three years ago created a piece of "land art" on the dike, commissioned by Waterschap Fryslan, the authority responsible for water management in the area. Objections to the project on other grounds had been overruled before Willemsma's action.

According to Willemsma, who is supported by art lovers like Rudi Fuchs, director of the world famous Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the beauty and the symbolism of the work will be maimed by the turbines. The "dike temple," as it is called, consists of an old dike placed on a 100 square metre table on top of the new dike. The table is supported by twelve columns. To fully appreciate its beauty, the object needs a lot of space, says Willemsma.

The nine turbines have been proposed by a group of five farmers united in the Maatschap Hoogland. The co-operative claims the judge has overruled Willemsma's objections but is now checking that the local authority followed correct procedure when granting planning permission. Further delay could stop the project in its tracks as it stands to lose its 35% subsidy, granted under the now expired Dutch subsidy programme for wind energy.

Henk Runia of the Ferwerderadeel local authority is confident, however, that all points of law were adhered to. But if objectors wish, they can take the matter to higher courts, delaying the project by several years.

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