More bother

The future of utility NUON's Eemsmeerdijk wind farm has once again been thrown into question following allegations that the plant is in violation of its planning permit. The original planning application specified a 60 metre tower height, but it appears the 19 Nedwind 1 MW turbines are mounted on 63 metre towers.

Given the protracted legal wrangling that preceded the completion of the wind farm, which came on line last month, the discrepancy could have serious consequences for the NLG 50 million project. The extra three metres was discovered while the towers were still on the ground awaiting erection. The Zeewolde local council, recognising that any further delay could jeopardise the project's NLG 7 million EU subsidy, allowed construction to proceed on condition that NUON amended its planning permit application.

To date the local council of neighbouring Bunschoten, which, along with local farmers and environmental organisations, has opposed the project since its inception 11 years ago, has given no indication that it will take further legal action against NUON. "It's not the three metres at the top but the first three metres above the dike that I find the ugliest," says Bunschoten planning officer Wim Huijgen.

Should the matter come to court, NUON is clearly ready to fight for every last centimetre. According to NUON's Annemarie Goedmakers the problem is one of interpretation: "The 60 metres refers to the turbines height above the three metre dike, not the tower height," she says.

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