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French court rejects Mont-St-Michel wind farm

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Mont St Michel. Photo: Guiseppe Citino
16:47 CEST+02:00
A French court has ruled against a decision to set up a wind farm off the picturesque northern abbey island of Mont Saint Michel which could threaten the site's UNESCO World Heritage status, a lawyer said on Thursday.

A local environment and landscape group and the owners of a nearby chateau had legally challenged a decision by the local administration in May 2011 to set up four wind turbines 140 metres to four kilometres south of the Gothic abbey.

They complained that the wind turbines would be visible from the monument, which attracts about 2.5 million tourists annually, on a clear day and blight the view.

The ruling was made in the middle of this month and decrees that one cannot just "set up wind turbines anywhere" one wishes, said Benoist Busson, a lawyer for the association.

Five wind farm projects around Mont Saint Michel had been rejected between 2008 and 2010 by the local government.

Mont Saint Michel and its 11th-century Benedictine abbey were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

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According to legend, the original 8th century monastery on the site was built by a local bishop after a visit from the Archangel Michael who repeatedly asked him to erect a church there.

UNESCO had earlier written to the French government asking it to explain the project.

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