The local residents, supported by Belgian anti-wind organisation 'VentdeRaison', wrote to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on 13 April arguing that the wind farm is making the inhabitants of nearby villages suffer from insomnia, migraines and even depression.
Currently, six out of eleven planned wind turbines have been mounted at the Estinnes wind farm. They were originally rated at a capacity of six megawatts each. But Enercon, the German manufacturer of the new model, has said that the turbines are capable of producing over 7MW.
The Estinnes wind farm is a pilot project that allows Enercon to test the performance of the 6MW turbine at higher levels and to assess the grid integration of the 198-metre-high mega-turbines.
The anti-wind groups say that the nearest houses are only 700 metres from the wind turbines, while the French Academy of Medicine recommends living at least 1.5km away from 2.5MW machines. They argue that 7MW turbines would therefore require a distance of more than 4km.
The European Commission provided €6.17 million to finance the project, and the residents say it is equally responsible for the troubles they are experiencing.
Problems with public acceptance are bound to increase as the EU continues its push to integrate 20% of renewables into its energy mix by 2020.
Anti-wind organisations are sprouting up in different member states, and the 'not-in-my-backyard' attitude is perceived by developers as a major hindrance to obtaining new planning permits.
In the UK, wind farm planning approvals by local councils slumped to a record low of 25% last year, despite increases in the number of farms being built, according to the British Wind Energy Association.
Former UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who was the UK's chief negotiator for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, launched an attack on "landowners and nimbys" who he said were obstructing the fight against climate change.
The industry is now focusing strongly on the development of offshore wind, where wind conditions are better and the challenges posed by local opposition are usually lower.
The UK government has launched the biggest offshore wind development project in Europe. The plan would see turbines mounted in deeper waters further from the shore than previously attempted (EurActiv 11/01/10).