Radio astronomers to sue Drenthe over “disastrous” windmill plan

The LOFAR 'superterp' - located near Exloo, Netherlands. (PhotoL Lofar/Astron / Wikimedia Commons). (The LOFAR 'superterp' - located near Exloo, Netherlands. (PhotoL Lofar/Astron / Wikimedia Commons))

The Dutch institute for radio astronomy Astron is threatening a 100 million euro damage claim against a group of farmers planning to build windmills in Veenkolonien, Drenthe. According to Astron, the windmills will be "disastrous" for their research into the origins of the universe, Trouw reports.

The plan is to place fifty 200 meter high windmills in eastern Drenthe. Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs is expected to make a final decision on whether or not to go through with the plan before the end of this year.

According to Astron, seven of the 50 windmills will be placed too close to the core of their Lofar-network, which skims the universe with thousands of sensitive antennas. This will interfere with the network's site and threaten to make their scientific research at least partly worthless, the astronomers said to the newspaper.

A study by British researchers previously concluded that the windmills will have very little effect on the Lofar-network. But Astron does not have any confidence in this study, because they feel the British researchers had no expertise in the field of radio astronomy.

Marco e Vos, director of Astron, thinks that Kamp did not properly weigh the interests of renewable energy production against the interests of the Lofar research. "With the advent of this wind farm, an internationally significant project loses its value."

Under the pressure of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, Kamp now ordered a new study by the agency Telecom, which regulates and controls the use of radio frequencies. That investigation is currently ongoing.