France’s plan to install a wind turbine complex off the D-Day coast has created an uproar, reports the Telegraph
“I think it’s a disgusting affair,” said Jack Martin, a Canadian veteran who was among the thousands of soldiers to storm Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. “I saw so many of my buddies and friends die on Juno Beach that I figure it is very hallowed grounds.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been heavily criticized for approving the project. The nation’s government announced last week that it was receiving tenders for over 1,000 wind turbines off France’s northwestern coast, including at Courseulles-sur-mer, where Juno Beach is located. The wind farm is expected to power more than 4.5 million homes after its estimated 2020 completion.
The ecological utility of a wind farm has not been enough to sway critics, however. Many continue to insist that a wind farm will ruin the somber and historic feeling of Juno Beach, which was the target of the Third Canadian Infantry Division supported by Royal Marine Commandos on D-Day.
“To be able to walk those beaches, and see them and imagine them as if it was 1944 is, in some ways, essential to keeping that historical memory alive, and in turn that memory shapes and forms our identity today," says historian Rudyard Griffith.
"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,” added Gérard Lecornu, president of the Port Winston Churchill Association of Arromanches. “D-Day is in our collective memory. To touch this is a very grave attack on that memory."
France’s government, however, defends the project wholeheartedly on the grounds that it will supply jobs, provide a more efficient form of energy, and bring France into the modern age of energy use. Government officials also claim that the visual effect of the wind farm will be very low, as the turbines will only look like “matchsticks” to the naked eye.
More than 4,000 people from 50 countries have signed an online petition against the plan.
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