Earlier this year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a plan to build five wind farms off the western coast of France, one of them off the Normandy beaches of Juno and Omaha, stormed by Allied troops on D-Day.
Work is to start in 2015. The 525-foot turbines are to be erected about seven miles from the coast.
British and French ecological organizations as well as veteran groups are critical of the plan, saying the placement of the windmills is inappropriate and would desecrate historic ground.
“We need to protect these places from merchants,” said Jean Louis Butre, head of the European Platform Against Windfarms and French Federation Environment Durable president. “They are destroying the memory, and they don’t care.”
Butre says he is against wind farms in general, arguing they do not supply enough electricity for what it costs to build the devices. The estimated cost of constructing the five wind farms is 10 billion euros.
Supporters of the idea argue that the towers will barely be visible from the shoreline. An American working at the American National Cemetery in Normandy, who wished not to be named, said the wind farms would not be in the line of site of the cemetery, and if they were, he doubted they would be an “eye sore.”
A mass emailing to American World War II veterans of the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment asking for their thoughts on the project elicited only one reply, from a veteran’s widow.
“I’ve found that one cannot go home again no matter how one tries to resurrect the past,” Rachel Johnson wrote. “To save the planet from further desecration, I suppose it’s going to be windmills, acres of solar panels and hydroponic tented gardens and a totally different outlook on life.”
French and British veterans’ and environmental organizations are also vocally protesting the plan.
“With 50-100 of these things flashing off the coast at night, it is going to look like a disco, not a memorial,” Butre said.
“With no exception, our organizations regard this as an invasion of sacred grounds, where so many warriors gave their lives,” wrote the Port Winston Churchill Association of Arromanches in a press release.