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Coastal cities lobbying against windmills

The Dutch coastal municipalities of Zandvoort Katwijk, Wassennaar and Noordwijk are lobbying against offshore windmills off the coast of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. They are doing so by subsidizing action group Stichting Vrije Horizon, or Foundation Free Horizon in English, the Volkskrant reports.

The municipalities are concerned about the effect the windmills will have on tourism by ruining the view. With the subsidy they want to make residents aware of the possible “fencing effect” the windmills will have on the horizon, according to the newspaper.

Vrije Horizon is trying to convince Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs to move the wind farm to an area 60 kilometers off the coast of IJmuiden. The Ministry estimates that doing so would cost some 1.2 billion euros more.

The Foundation uses the subsidy it receives from the municipalities for the campaign, printing, to spread information and research. “Just like a sports team, the municipality sponsors our actions in the public interest”, foundation president Albert Korper said to the Volkskrant. According to him, the coastline has a huge emotional and economic value. Zandvoort, for example, is 40 percent dependent on tourism, he said. “Suppose a tenth of them stay away, then entrepreneurs have a big problem.”

Vrije Horizon set up a website where sympathizers can sign a petition and download an example letter against the windmills, which they can sign and hand in to Economic Affairs. According to the newspaper, the Ministry already received nearly 600 such letters.

Noordwijk Alderman Pieter-Jan Barhoorn denies that his municipality is giving a subsidy to the foundation to fight against the wind farms. He told broadcaster NOS, that the municipality does give money to the foundation, but according to him, Vrije Horizon is an independent organization that spends the money on research and to educate citizens of coastal town.