A feud has erupted between two Normandy villages over the erection of wind farms a stone’s throw from British war graves, with detractors calling it a slur on the memory of soldiers.
The row started after the village of Le Manoir gave the green light to build five 150m-high turbines just 800m from Ryes war cemetery, Bazenville, just eight kilometres from Bayeux.
The cemetery is not far inland from the D-Day beaches at Arromanches, where the 50th Division landed on June 6 1944.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation, the first burials were made there “just two days after the landings”. The cemetery contains 652 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. There are also 335 German graves and one Polish grave.
Commemoration site ‘must be protected’
Le Manoir, with a population of 200, gave planning permission last month for the construction of the first mast on arable land, to test wind strength and direction on the site.
On Monday, the municipal council of neighbouring Bezanville voted unanimously against the turbines.
“We are on a plain and wherever you are, you will see these masts,” Marcel Dubois, the mayor, told Le Figaro.
He has joined forces with the environmental group, Pour le Protection de l’Environnement (For the Protection of the Environment), to lodge an appeal.
“We’re not against wind farms per se but we are on a commemoration site which must be protected,” said Ben André, who is leading the group opposed to the turbines.
Detractors warn that the wind farms will also blight the view from the newly inaugurated British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer above Gold Beach, the landing site of many British D-Day forces.
Campaign resurrected after earlier rejection
An earlier plan to erect the turbines was blocked in 2018 by French civil aviation authorities, which said the masts could disturb air corridors.
However Yves Le Guillois, Le Manoir’s mayor, has reopened the dossier with turbine company Vensolair.
The campaign comes after the failure to prevent a vast offshore wind farm project to build 64 huge turbines off the D-Day landing beaches providing electricity for 630,000 people per year and which is due for completion in 2024.
Detractors of the new project argue this buck should stop at this site.
“What’s the point of creating these few masts as we’re going to have nearby this huge offshore farm?” asked Hervé Morin, the president to the Normandy region. “I’m against onshore wind farms and even more against this project which is totally absurd. They should stop p—— people off.”
Le Manoir’s mayor insisted that the project was only in the “study” phase. “The measuring mast will be installed for a year and then we’ll see,” he told Le Figaro.
As for Jean-Louis Morel, the farmer on whose land the mast will be built, he said: “I’ve become a beast to be slaughtered but you have to move with the times. I prefer wind farms to nuclear,” he said.
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