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French wind farm off Jersey coast approved by President

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PLANS to build a 62-turbine wind farm 23 miles from the south coast of Jersey have been approved, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced.

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According to the company behind the project, Ailes Marines, a final investment decision dictating how the company will fund the scheme off the coast of St Brieuc is due to be made at the start of 2020, with construction due to begin in 2021.

Although the scheme is being built just outside of Jersey’s territorial waters, it is thought the turbines could be visible from some parts of the south coast on a clear day and are just 3.7 miles from the Minquiers – the most southerly point of the Bailiwick.

It is hoped that the wind farm, which is expected to generate enough electricity to power 850,000 homes, will be operational by 2023.

The decision, which also relates to five other similar projects around France, was announced by the French president while on a visit to Brittany yesterday.

Opposition from some of the French public has repeatedly delayed the schemes and prices for power generated by offshore wind farms have more than halved since the idea’s conception.

Subsequently, French energy regulator Commission de Régulation de l’Energie said that the subsidised projects were too costly and in March the government announced that it had proposed to re-negotiate the projects or cancel them.

However, speaking at Cap Fréhel – around 13 miles from St Malo – Mr Macron confirmed negotiations between the government and developers had concluded and the projects would go ahead.

‘We will bring about renewable energy more quickly and less expensively: the projects are confirmed – their public subsidy is reduced by 40 per cent,’ he said.

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Under French law, as the project was in close proximity to Jersey, representatives from the developers behind the plans travelled to Jersey as part of a public planning inquiry in 2016 and Islanders and the government submitted comments.

Louise Magris, director for environmental policy at the Environment Department, said the approval was a positive development.

‘Many Islanders took the opportunity to make individual responses on the planning proposal,’ she said.

‘The official Government of Jersey response to the public inquiry was broadly supportive of the French project recognising the contribution that offshore utility scale renewable energy can make to global reductions in carbon emissions.

‘With this in mind it is positive to see that the final financial negotiations have been concluded.’

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