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Fête at Fécamp

Despite a four year campaign by anti-wind protestors, a 4.5 MW project at Fécamp, between Le Havre and Dieppe on the English Channel coast is at last online. Around 700 people joined in the celebrations beneath the five NEG-Micon 900 kW turbines, which local school children have named after different winds -- Zephyr, Mistral, Alizé, Tourbillon and Brise.

It has been a long wait. The initial proposal, submitted in 1997, was for 9 MW spread over two local authority areas on an exceptionally windy, cliff-top site at Cap Fagnet. Both the local authority mayors and the chamber of commerce were in favour, as were the vast majority of local people. But when project owner EDF Energies Nouvelles applied for a siting permit in 2001, a small but vociferous group of about 20 people, based ten kilometres away, stalled the project for four years, claiming the process was illegal because France had failed to implement an EU directive requiring wind projects be submitted to public enquiry. In response, the mayor of Fécamp organised the equivalent of a public enquiry, proving overwhelming popular support. After two appeals, the project was finally given the go-ahead by a unanimous vote. But the neighbouring local authority had meantime taken fright at the level of opposition and decided to withdraw its support. Ironically, there are two nuclear power stations in the area. "There are hundreds of high-voltage pylons around," says Fécamp representative François-Marie Michaux, "But people are bothered about five turbines."

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