Construction work on the Netherlands' Near Shore Windpark (NSW) looks set to begin in the summer of 2003 following the Dutch parliament's approval of the latest phase in planning the 100 MW pilot project. The selection of project partners is due to take place this month, meaning that the process of applying for environmental and building permits can begin in February, says economics minister Annemarie Jorritsma. The approval of the government's decision to build the plant eight kilometres off the coast of Egmond aan Zee came from the full range of parliamentary parties. Jorritsma does not expect the permit application process to contravene any EU regulations. The government's NSW is competing to be the first offshore wind plant in Dutch waters against two commercial projects being developed by E-Connection, though beyond the 12 mile zone. Last year, the E-Connection proposal looked to have derailed the less ambitious approach to offshore development by government agency Novem. Now, however, it looks likely that both projects will go-ahead. Jorritsma rejects arguments that the E-Connection project made the NLG 450 million NSW redundant, saying that "it is uncertain whether the project will actually succeed -- we are never satisfied with the good, we always want something better, while their is no guarantee that the better exists." Despite the technical uncertainties of the commercial project, Jorritsma welcomes the initiative: "Standing outside the twelve mile zone in twenty metres of water, the project will be the only one like it in the world," she says. The two projects complement each other she believes, with the experience gained from the NSW being put to use in the E-Connection plant.
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