The Dutch tilt at windmills

By Eric Watkins
Regardless of the form of energy, there’s bound to be someone standing in opposition to it. Take the latest news from Holland, where a dispute over windmills threatens to go the nation’s highest court.

The problem is set in the town of Urk, where a new development of windmills is due to take place. The 86 turbines are to be erected in three rows, 38 on land and 48 off shore.

According to recent press reports, though, these mills are giants, standing some 200 meters tall. And that’s just where the opposition comes in.

"They are the highest buildings in Holland," says Leen van Loosen, Urk's undertaker who is campaigning to stop the project. "It's just crazy."

With 430 megawatts of capacity, the wind park near Urk, population 18,000, would provide enough electricity for 400,000 homes and rank among Europe's largest.

The Urk Park would help the Netherlands as it races to catch up with the stiff target set by the European Union to generate 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Dutch now have a capacity of 2,237 megawatts from wind. But that’s a far cry from the 12,000 megawatt national target set for 2020.

But local residents are not happy at the prospect and they cite a long litany of dangers from the wind park. Fishing and tourism will suffer, they say.

And they cite more problems, too.

The tranquil panorama of the local lake will be disrupted, the town will tremble with the constant rumbling noise of blades, birds will be traumatized, and the whole project could undermine a dike slated to host turbines.

"We are all for green energy," says Van Loosen, "but this is out of proportion."

Strangely enough, doesn’t that sound a little like Not In My Backyard?

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