Would Wind Farm ‘Desecrate’ Site of D-Day Invasion?

There’s an interesting battle brewing at the site of perhaps the most famous military landing in modern history.

According to several published reports, the famed beaches at Normandy on the coast of France where Allied troops launched a historic offensive against Nazi Germany on June 6, 1944, are now being flooded by complaints from veterans — mostly from the U.S. and Great Britain — who oppose French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to put 100 wind turbines seven miles offshore. Some go as far to say the turbines would “desecrate” the site.

These are hallowed grounds, they say. To ostensibly line the path of history with 100 turbines is, as British writer Robert Hardman wrote in an op-ed in the Daily Mail, an attack on the past. “If modish environmental dogma takes priority over our most important heritage sites, then a precedent has been set.”

Sure, but who owns the past? For nearly 70 years, that site has all but belonged to Allied veterans, who saw it as a reflection of their democratic ideals. Do wind turbines — barely a thumbnail tall on the horizon seven miles away — change those ideals? And who owns that history? The French certainly own the rights.

The French government is surely keen to the sensitivity of the site. But they also know they are falling behind the renewable energy curve as they contemplate their future energy policy. The country remains deeply invested in nuclear power, with little to show in terms of solar and offshore wind development.

It’ll be interesting to see how they navigate this issue that seems to be more contentious abroad than it is at home.

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Steve Leone has been a journalist for more than 15 years and has worked for news organizations in Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia and California.

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