Wind farm plan on French D-Day sites fans controversy

Jun 14, 2013 by Chloe Coupeau
File photo taken on June 6, 2009 shows tourists boarding a landing craft on the beach of Arromanches-les-Bains, northern France during commemorations marking the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy. A plan to set up wind turbines near the site of the D-Day landings that changed the course of World War II has enraged many who say it desecrates the memory of the liberators.

A French plan to set up wind turbines near the site of the D-Day landings that changed the course of World War II has enraged many who say it desecrates the memory of the liberators.

The proposed wind park off the Normandy coast involves 75 windmills, each 100 metres (300 feet) high, and will span the areas where British and Canadian forces landed in 1944. The closest windmills will be only about 10 kilometres (six miles) from shore.

The project, being led by state EDF, is part of a strategy to use renewable energy to account for almost a quarter of France's needs by around 2030.

Meetings are being held across Normandy to discuss the thorny issue. They are being conducted in both English and French—the latest held Wednesday at Arromanches-les-Bains, where the British soldiers landed.

"These beaches belong to history. It's from here that the liberation of the world began. If you allow the comparison, I don't think the Germans would permit the construction of a wind park next to the ruins of a concentration camp. These are sacred areas," said Karel Scheerlinck, a Belgian who lives in the town.

Claude Brevan, the head of a commission organising the meetings, said the wind park would span an area from Arromanches-les-Bains to the nearby fishing port of Courselles, where Canadian soldiers fought their way ashore.

American landing sites would not be affected, she said.

"We owe it to these soldiers, to these veterans who were dog-tired but had the courage to land, to respect the freedom that they gave us," said Gisele Forknall, the widow of a soldier, who travelled from the south of France to attend the meeting.

"Windmills are OK. But not here. There has been too much blood spilt," she said.

An aerial view of the port and town of Arromanches-les-Bains, the site of the D-Day landings in Normandy, northern France taken on June 4, 2004. A French plan to set up wind turbines near the site of the D-Day landings that changed the course of World War II has enraged many who say it desecrates the memory of the liberators.

William Jordan, a who offers guided tours of the area, gave another reason.

To imagine the events of June 6, 1944—when thousands of Allied vessels arrived—one "needs an empty horizon like a painter needs an empty canvas," he said.

But many others say they understand the decision.

Veterans "believe in the future. They have offshore wind farms in their countries. They are thinking about future generations," said Anne d'Ornano, a former local official who met with Canadian veterans.

"They just want their regiment's insignia to be there somewhere as a sign of homage."

Adrian Cox, a Briton who is a municipal councillor at Arromanches-les-Bains, said there had been growing concern among veterans due to a "lack of information".

He said he had received outraged emails asking: "How can they have windmills on the beaches?"

"But two years ago I met a veteran. He looked around and then he said 'This is not my beach. When I landed these buildings were not there. There are friends buried under them.'"

Christophe Collet, who heads an association aimed at preserving the memory of the fallen soldiers among young Canadians, said he found the controversy a bit pointless, especially as there was no brouhaha when marinas were built at the sites.

"It is our duty to remember them in our hearts," he said.

Explore further: Research proves there is power in numbers to reduce electricity bills

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Morocco to harness the wind in energy hunt

May 18, 2013

Morocco is ploughing ahead with a programme to boost wind energy production, particularly in the southern Tarfaya region, where Africa's largest wind farm is set to open in 2014.

Germany paves way to offshore wind farms

Sep 16, 2009

The German government on Wednesday agreed a plan to set aside special zones off its northern coast for a host of wind farms that could provide energy for more than eight million homes.

Philippines approves three new wind farms

May 20, 2013

The Philippines has approved three wind farm projects that will generate 208 megawatts, enough to power more than 40,000 middle-class homes, an energy official said on Monday.

Recommended for you

Many tongues, one voice, one common ambition

16 hours ago

There is much need to develop energy efficient solutions for residential buildings in Europe. The EU-funded project, MeeFS, due to be completed by the end of 2015, is developing an innovative multifunctional and energy efficient ...

Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

17 hours ago

(AP)—American electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. is teaming up with Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. to build a battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. expected to create 6,500 jobs.

Simulation models optimize water power

18 hours ago

The Columbia River basin in the Pacific Northwest offers great potential for water power; hydroelectric power stations there generate over 20 000 megawatts already. Now a simulation model will help optimize the operation ...

Charging electric cars efficiently inductive

18 hours ago

We already charge our toothbrushes and cellphones using contactless technology. Researchers have developed a particularly efficient and cost-effective method that means electric cars could soon follow suit.

User comments : 0