The construction of the Saint-Brieuc offshore wind farm with 62 wind turbines, each with an 8mW generating capacity, began on the 3rd May this year – while the fishing industry continues to voice its opposition to the project.
The Normandy fishermen held a demonstration both on shore and on the water, while others in the Hauts-de-France region and elsewhere, demonstrated in solidarity with their colleagues in Brittany.
The problem is that the entire area around the wind turbines will be closed to them for three years, claim the fishermen.
Even though Ailes Marines, which is running the project, is offering financial compensation to fishermen who have been harmed by this ban, they continue to demand the end of the project. The company will also pay wind tax and each year and for twenty years, it will distribute €1.2 million for the National Committee for Maritime Fisheries (CNPMEM), €800,000 for the Brittany Regional Committee (CRPMEM Bretagne) and another €800,000 for the Departmental Committee of Côtes d’Armor (CDPMEM 22).
The 62 wind turbines will cover a surface area of 75 square kilometres located 16 kilometres off the French coast. In 2020, the analysis of technical and environmental conditions was completed, incorporating the installation of three wind measurement systems. Ailes Marines also presented results of environmental studies demonstrating that sound waves generated by drilling are compatible with the normal life cycle of the species of fish studied.
The Saint-Brieuc project had been contested in several appeals in French courts, and cleared its last legal hurdle in December 2020.
But, for Alain Coudray, president of the Côtes-d’Armor fisheries committee, this is not enough, and he has appealed to President Macron to cancel the project.
In a demonstration of anger, on 7th May fishermen took their protests against the construction out to the offshore site. 70 fishing boats surrounded the Aeolus installation vessel in the Bay of Saint-Brieu where Van Oord’s offshore installation vessel began constructing the first pin piles for the project’s 62 jacket foundations for wind turbines.
The fishermen are adamant that they are not against wind farms – but they don’t want to see them near their fishing zones.
‘Why won’t government put them on the land?’ ask fishermen of Etaples-sur-Mer, protesting in solidarity with the Breton fishermen.
‘After Brexit and now, these turbines threaten the economic health of our profession. We are scared as it’s only the first project. Who knows, maybe they will come in our region too? We can’t let it happen.’
‘The impact of offshore wind turbines on biodiversity and fishery resources are now indisputable,’ the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee states in a formal letter setting out its opposition.
‘What will be the consequences of these wind projects on marine ecosystems? Underwater pollution? Displacement of sediments due to changing sea currents? To date, very few studies have been carried out. The industry regrets that the various projects are not carried out in close consultation,’ stated the Hauts-de-France Regional Committee, in support of its colleagues in Brittany and Normandy
The demonstrations have continued since the beginning of May. Hundreds of fishermen demand the withdrawal of the project due to lack of guarantees on preservation of fishery resources, including the precious scallops from the bay, which they have been managing sustainably for several decades in co-operation with Ifremer.