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France warned on Mont windmills

Unesco says exclusion zone is not big enough to stop turbine blades from upsetting site's "timeless landscape"

UNESCO is set to tell France to keep offshore wind turbines further away from Mont-Saint-Michel to preserve the site's "timeless landscape".

The world cultural heritage body - which meets in St Petersburg at the end of this month to ratify the proposals - will also ask the government to change the plans for the bridge to replace the present causeway.

France is already setting up an exclusion zone around the site, with all wind turbines banned in an area 20km to the north and south of the monument.

However, Unesco says this will not be enough and says in a statement today that in the "almost flat landscape surroundings of Mont-Saint-Michel" flickering from the wind turbines is "visible from the mount even if over 20 km away – such as the [existing] Trémeheuc wind farm at a distance of some 23 km".

It adds: "The movement of the wind turbine blades in the day time and their lights at night have a detrimental impact on what is seen as the timeless landscape of earth and sea. They disrupt the long views of the mount, particularly for visiting pilgrims.

"They impact adversely on the landscape setting of the property which provides its context and supports its Outstanding Universal Value."

Unesco advisers have also ruled against the proposals for a new access ramp to the planned bridge.

The government had called for the causeway to be increased to 7.3m to allow year-round emergency access but Unesco says this should be kept to 6.8m to "reduce the visual impact next to the ramparts and the main entrance".

Proposals for the so-called "Caserne" area have also been amended by Unesco, which says the government should "reduce its commercial nature, provide housing for residents and hidden parking spaces, and allow some public squares".

Further reading: Unesco page on Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay

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