Nicolas Sarkozy has come in for heavy criticism after approving plans for a large wind farm complex off the D-Day coast where Allied troops launched their World War Two assault in 1944.
The French President was accused of a ‘grave attack on the collective memory’ of Allied forces after giving the go-ahead for the plans on the Calvados coast near the Normandy landing beaches.
The proposed project will see more than 100 turbines more than 525ft high erected just seven miles from the beaches, synonymous with the D-Day landings.
Mr Sarkozy’s decision to open the bidding process on the €20 billion (£17.5 billion) project has been branded ‘sacrilegious’ by critics, including British veterans’ families.
It was claimed the windmills’ flashing lights would ruin poignant night remembrances on Juno and Omaha beaches by giving off a ‘disco’ effect.
Juno was the target of 3rd Canadian Infantry Division supported by British Royal Marine Commandos.
It is less than 20 miles from the coastline codenamed Omaha Beach in 1944, where U.S. forces suffered more than 2,000 casualties during the operation.
The aim of the project is to create 1,200 windfarms off the French Atlantic seaboard by the year 2020.
France remains behind other European countries, included Britain, in the use of sea turbine energy, and plans are in place to narrow the gap and lessen the French reliance on nuclear power.
One of the five projects in the first batch of tenders is off Courseulles-sur-Mer, nearest to Juno Beach, on which 2,500 Allied soldiers died on D-Day.
Construction is due to begin on the wind farms in 2015, but Mr Sarkozy faces tough opposition as over 4,000 people from 50 countries have signed an online petition against the plan.
Gérard Lecornu, president of the Port Winston Churchill Association of Arromanches, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘They will be visible from all the Normandy landing beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
‘Three million tourists come from the world over to the landing beaches. The first thing they do is look at the line of horizon from where the landings came.
‘D-Day is in our collective memory. To touch this is a very grave attack on that memory.’
Last month a campaign was launched on the 67th anniversary of D-Day to prevent the French government ‘desecrating’ the beaches with the wind farm.
David Churchcroft, a former infantryman who stormed ashore with the British 2nd Army on June 6th 1944, said: ‘It will change the entire seascape, destroying a view which evokes memories of the most astonishing invasion in military history.
‘This is sacred ground, and the French should not be allowed to alter its character.’