Coast Guard: ‘Wind parks are dangerous’
DEN HELDER _ The head of the Dutch Coast Guard service warns the furious growth of wind parks in the North Sea poses a maritime traffic hazard. “Only one rudderless ship needs to drift into a wind park and you’ll have another Costa Concordia incident,” says Ed Veen.
Veen told the daily De Telegraaf maritime traffic already has a hard time maneuvering in the North Sea whose waters are thick with thousands of merchant ships, fishing boats, offshore utility craft and sports and recreational vessels. The Dover Strait alone sees more than 400 commercial vessels a day, i.e. 17 an hour. “The increasing number of wind parks means creates less room. Every obstacle increases the chance of conflicts,” says Veen. He estimates at least 100 ships a day lose steerage on the North Sea.
The North Sea is already home to hundreds of oil and gas platforms _ 150 in the sea’s Dutch part alone _ and at least 2 dozen wind parks. More are on their way. The keenest wind mill builder is Britain. It operates 11 wind parks, followed by Denmark (4), Belgium and the Netherlands (2 each) and Germany (1). The latter plans for 8 more and the Netherlands for another 2. That’s at least another 1,000 windmills.
Dutch MP Rene Leegte shares Veen’s concern. “If a ship collides with a windmill it will topple it,” he says. “That’s no disaster but it may also cut upon its hull which is vulnerable to being punctured by small, sharp objects at sea.” The Dutch government argues a recent reshuffle of North-South navigation routes has made North Sea traffic significantly safer. Also, it says, new rules force shipping to stay at least 1.3nm from any wind park and require the government to observe stricter shipping safety rules in awarding any future wind park contracts.