First permit granted for full cable route -- Long process finally over

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The first German offshore wind power pilot project to receive all necessary permits is cleared to go ahead. Early last month, the regional Weser-Ems government authorised Prokon Nord to lay the undersea cable for its Borkum West project under dike, water and nature protection laws. The project lies in the North Sea within the 12 nautical mile zone of the state of Lower Saxony. Prokon Nord received its permit from the federal shipping office, Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH), in 2001.

The cable must be laid "within a short window of time" to avoid disturbing birds breeding in the Hilgenrieder Sommerpolder area. The developer must also document and monitor the cable laying process and compensate for any disturbance to the ecology by returning a part of the island of Nordeney to its previous state and creating a resting place for birds on the former property of Norddeich Radio. The government "does not expect a significant impairment" to the mudflats of the protected Wattenmeer national park.

Prokon does not plan to build the wind power station until 2006 since the 12, 5 MW Multibrid turbines it intends to use are not yet commercially available.

Cable permits within the 12 nautical mile zone have been the biggest problem for German offshore development. The combination of regional and state bureaucracy as well as the extensive presence of nature protection zones along German coastlines has made gaining permits a time consuming process.


The Weser-Ems government, which is responsible for a large coastal region in Lower Saxony, has started regional site permit procedures for two more offshore wind plant cable projects, Enova Energieanlagen's 44 turbine Borkum Riffgat and Windland Energieerzeugung's 74 turbine Meerwind project. Though Weser-Ems had hoped to complete both permits by mid 2005, it must now pass everything on to the Lower Saxony agricultural ministry following the abolition of all local governments in Germany at the end of 2004.

In the next administrative phase the Oldenburg trade supervisory authority will proceed with the construction permitting process. In parallel, owners of property on which the cable route crosses, mostly the state of Lower Saxony, will be asked to grant consents, as will the water police authority, concerned with safety in coastal waters.

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