Netherlands' highest court rules against permit system

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In yet another blow to the Dutch offshore wind sector, the Netherlands' highest court, the Raad van State, has rejected the government's latest plans for allocating further offshore wind farm permits. Energy minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst says he will soon present an alternative proposal. At present two permits have been granted -- one to Shell and power company Nuon for a 99 MW project, 11 kilometres off Egmond and the other to a consortia headed by E-Connection for a 120 MW wind station 24 kilometres off IJmuiden. After giving these two projects the go-ahead in 2001, the government stopped processing applications until it had worked out a permit system. In November, the wind industry and the government failed to reach an agreement on an interim permitting policy (Windpower Monthly, December 2003). Greenpeace Nederland has been campaigning for urgent action on the permitting issue and decries this latest delay. "The investors will leave unless we get a move on," Greenpeace's Ruud van Leeuwen told Dutch daily, Trouw. According to Ernst van Zuylen of Evelop, currently involved in offshore project development in the UK, there will be no activity in the Dutch market without a clear legal framework.

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