The Belgian government will take French justice and the European Commission to protest against a French project for an offshore wind farm at the limit of its territorial waters. The latter would threaten the “essential interests” of Belgium.
“A complaint will be filed with the European Commission because our country has not been consulted about the location of the area, while European directives require it,” said in a statement dated June 24, the minister Belgian Justice and the North Sea, Vincent Van Quickenborne on a French offshore wind farm project.
This park of 46 wind turbines, which can measure up to 300 meters in height, is due to be built by 2027, around ten kilometers off the coast of Dunkirk (North). Belgium accuses the French authorities of having defined this construction zone in 2016 without any consultation, even though it is located at the border.
Vincent Van Quickenborne specifies, however, that Belgium “continues to work for a negotiated solution favorable to the two countries”. Another axis of the offensive: this Flemish liberal minister announces that he will seize before July 10 the administrative court of Lille (North) against a decision taken on May 10 by the construction consortium, the company Eoliennes en mer de Dunkirk ( EMD).
The press release regrets that EMD – a consortium made up in particular of the French giants EDF and RTE – has decided to continue the project according to the original plans, ignoring in particular the Belgian proposal for an alternative location.
Blocking of “historic” maritime routes
The Belgian government claims to have expressed its objections during the French public consultation conducted in the fall of 2020, before a new series of “intensive” discussions at the end of April on this project. “Moving the park 5 km more (offshore) at sea could resolve almost all the objections formulated by Belgium,” underlines Vincent Van Quickenborne. While unchanged, the minister fears that the project will place the wind turbines “in airspace controlled by Belgium”, which he considers “worrying” for the safety of traffic departing from and bound for the military base of Koksijde . But this park would also threaten “essential interests” of Belgium such as the blocking of the “historic” maritime routes between the United Kingdom and the port of Ostend (West Flanders), where a fishing fleet is used to work in British waters.
In northern France, this 600 MW offshore farm project has also raised opposition, with criticism targeting the threat to altering ecosystems and marine resources. A local referendum was demanded by political parties and citizens’ groups, a prospect that the Minister for the Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili ruled out in May.