Fear of unexploded mines stops offshore project

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The French authorities have rejected an ambitious 702 MW offshore project proposed by La Compagnie du Vent, one of France's leading developers and owner-operators of wind power, now 50% owned by Spain's Acciona. Last year, La Compagnie du Vent applied to the prefect heading up the Seine-Maritime département for authority to occupy an area in the English Channel 14 kilometres off the coast of Picardy and Haute-Normandie. The application was the first step in the long haul through the permitting process (Windpower Monthly, December 2006). The prefect, however, refuses to consider the application on the grounds that the site comprises an old World War II mine field. La Compagnie du Vent said it is "astonished," given that "fishermen trawl the region on an almost daily basis" and that it has taken mine clearance into account in its proposals. It points out that unexploded World War II ordnance is not preventing development of sites off the British coast. The company will appeal the decision. The Deux Côtes project represents an investment of EUR 1.4 billion. It will generate nearly EUR 8.5 million a year in tax revenue, of which half goes to supporting fishing and maritime tourism and the rest to the local authorities. La Compagnie du Vent estimates the project will create over 2000 jobs during the three year construction phase and a further 250 for operation and maintenance. It is also considering manufacturing towers and foundations locally.

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