1.         Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay (France) (C 80ter)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (i)(iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/80/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/80/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Development pressures

b) Environmental constraints

c) Natural disasters (earthquakes, wind storms (1987 and 1999), earth slides)

d) Tourism/ visitor pressure (including the intensification of fish/shell industries and pasture in the bay)

e) Problems related to the presentation of the site: Car parking at the foot of the Mount, sign posts

f) potential impact of wind turbines on the landscape setting of the property

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/80/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 15 February 2012 which addressed the concerns of the Committee at its last session and provided information on protection and management of the property. In a letter of 9 April 2012, the State Party provided information on the cancellation of a wind turbine project.

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property between 22 and 24 November 2011, as requested by the Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011), to consider the impact of wind turbines on the property and its setting.  The mission report is available online at the following Web address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM

a) Wind Turbines

The mission noted the extreme sensitivity of the open, almost flat landscape surroundings of Mont-Saint-Michel to wind turbines which are visible from the mount even if over 20 km away – such as the Trémeheuc wind farm at a distance of some 23 km – far beyond the boundaries of the buffer zone (where wind turbines are excluded). 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. The mission considered that they impact adversely on the landscape setting of the property which provides its context and supports its Outstanding Universal Value.

The mission also noted that the current methods of assessing whether proposed wind turbines visually impact the property were subjective and sometimes inconsistent. No precise instruments are used to consider impact on views from the mount, and analyses of visibility that are carried out as part of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) only consider the property as being of the same importance as national or local heritage assets. The State Party has begun a process to define an exclusion area for wind turbines beyond the buffer zone but this is not yet complete. The mission considered that the definition of such an exclusion area should be carried out on the basis of indisputable computer-based cartography, which maps areas where turbines over 50 metres in height could be seen from the mount. This would allow rigorous, fast and consistent appraisals for all projects. Such an area would need to be approved and integrated into planning processes. The mission also recommended improvement be made in the way visual impact is measured by promoters through the use of digital terrain modelling.

In a letter of 9 April 2012, the State Party reported that a project concerning three wind turbines in the commune of Argouges in La Manche had been cancelled.

b) Restoring the Maritime Character of Mont-Saint-Michel

The mission was made aware of the details of a major project addressing the negative visual impact of the 19th century causeway and the silting that results from its obstruction of tidal dynamics. The causeway is being replaced by a new crossing for which work started in 2011. This will allow the recovery of the mount as an island surrounded by water. The mission recommended that the height of the access area immediately around the mount should be kept at 6.8 metres rather than being made higher, in order to reduce the visual impact next to the ramparts and the main entrance.

The mission also recommended that a plan be prepared for the so called area of “la Caserne” to reduce its commercial nature, provide housing for residents and hidden parking spaces, and allow some public squares. Finally the mission recommended that a planting plan be prepared for the garden of the mediaeval cloister based on historical evidence.

c) Management Plan

The mission considered that there was an urgent need to create and approve a Management Plan for the property and to put in place a more coordinated management system around a site “Management Committee" that could integrate the needs of heritage conservation, urban planning, and agriculture. The Plan could also bring together the various public authorities, private bodies, associations and volunteers who are involved in the management of the property. The Management Plan needs to be based on an agreed Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and to take a landscape approach so that management addresses the needs of the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting. The mission considered that the present Steering Committee for the restoration of the Maritime Character might be improved to fulfil these requirements and become a Coordination Committee for the property with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Management Plan. In its report, the State Party indicated its support for this approach.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the commitment of the State Party to formulate an exclusion area for wind farms over a certain height in areas beyond the current buffer zone in order to ensure that wind turbines do not compromise the setting of the property that provides its context and supports its Outstanding Universal Value. They also note that at the moment no satisfactory method of delineating such an area has been agreed. They consider that, as the mission recommended and in order to minimize subjectivity and to ensure consistency, such an area should be defined through computer-based cartography that can map all areas from where turbines over a certain height might be visible from the mount. They consider that until such an area has been defined and integrated into the planning system, no new proposals for turbines should be approved.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies also take note of the project to restore the Maritime Character of the property. They note the recommendation of the mission that the new raised access area immediately around the mount (terre-plein) should be no higher than 6.8 metres in order to reduce its visual impact.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies support the recommendation of the mission to develop an overall Management Plan for the property, based on the approved Statement of Outstanding Universal Value. Such a plan should bring together all stakeholders, harmonize the input of the various disciplines involved at the property and adopt an integrated landscape approach to the management of the property, its buffer zone and wider setting. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the commitment of the State Party to produce a Management Plan and to strengthen the existing Project Steering Committee so that it could be transformed into a Coordination Committee for the property with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Plan, once it has been completed and approved. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.74

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.   Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.83 adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.   Takes note of the results of the November 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, particularly, the conclusion that wind turbines impact adversely on the landscape setting of the property which provides its context and supports its Outstanding Universal Value;

4.   Strongly recommends the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the mission;

5.   Welcomes with satisfaction the identification by the State Party of a wind turbine exclusion zone, beyond the buffer zone, incorporated into the planning process, and also notes with interest the implementation of terrain modelling procedures for assessing visual impact;

6.   Further notes the definition of a replicable method of defining such a zone, based on computer-based cartography and by a terrain approach;

7.   Also notes the project to remove the 19th century causeway, and replace it with a permeable bridge that will allow the mount to be seen as an island, and requests that its inclusion be compatible with the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

8.   Further notes the urgent needs for an integrated Management Plan for the property, and further requests the State Party to produce such a plan based on the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and a landscape approach to the management of the property, its buffer zone and its wider setting, and to put in place a Coordination Committee to oversee its implementation;

9.   Requests furthermore the State Party to provide copies of the draft Management Plan for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies by 1 February 2013;

10.  Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.