Imbroglio around the location of future wind turbines

It’s a peak! For once, opponents of wind power and professionals in the sector agree to denounce the compromise reached between senators and the government on Thursday, November 3, as part of the bill on the acceleration of renewable energies, giving municipalities the opportunity to oppose the establishment of a park.

“The text is blurry. Instead of simplifying the procedures as announced, it will both make them more complex and lengthen them, by creating a nest of litigation “regrets Thierry Vergnaud, director of onshore wind power within the French subsidiary of the Spanish giant Iberdrola.

One right of veto replaces another

The device would allow elected officials “to define areas conducive to the reception of renewable energies and, on this basis, to benefit from a boost from the State when they agree to host projects”explained Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the Minister for Energy Transition during the discussion, defending this principle of planning giving the initiative to mayors.

The government’s amendment replaced that carried by Senator LR Didier Mandelli, rapporteur for the text. It provided for the establishment of a right of veto, allowing mayors to refuse a project. The neighboring municipalities, visually impacted, were also concerned.

A “bottom-up” planning system

“Rather than having to decide project by project, the mayors will do it upstream and they will have the last word. If they don’t want wind turbines, there won’t be any.”we explain within the group Les Républicains (LR) of the Senate, which finally chose to abstain during the vote on the text proposed by the government, while giving the impression of supporting it.

“I think we have a good general system here that still needs to be refined”explained the LR president of the Economic Affairs Committee, Sophie Primas, referring to a “bottom-up planning”that is to say starting from the territories rather than imposed from above.

“This system of veto rights had been clumsily presented as that of the mayor, while this zoning system will force collective reflection”notes Michel Fournier, the president of the Association of rural mayors of France, who contributed to the drafting of this government amendment.

Furious Opponents

Opponents of wind power are furious. ” It is a betrayal. The group The Republicans had drafted a clear amendment and at the last moment, they chose to let the government’s pass, abstaining on the vote. Their voters are going to have a hard time understanding”says Jean-Louis Butré, president of the Sustainable Environment Federation (FED).

The Minister for Energy Transition also denies putting a brake on onshore wind power, even if last February in Belfort, the President of the Republic had explained that the doubling of the park, planned by 2030 , would be postponed to 2050. “Rather than going to talk to the farmer here, there to a landowner in a badly located area, the project leader can directly examine the list of priority areasunderlined Agnès Pannier-Runacher. This saves him time and money. »

A complicated mechanism

But many senators, from all political persuasions, did not hide their questions about the complexity of the mechanism. “Does the mayor have a right of veto? I think so, but I’m not sure I understand.underlined the socialist Franck Montaugé. “I can’t find myself there anymore”recognized André Reichardt (LR).

Another amendment tabled by the ecologist Ronan Dantec, and adopted, caused trouble by providing for the possibility of correcting at the regional level “possible shortcomings” in terms of goals. “Outside the priority areas, where not all the territories will play the game, it will be more difficult but it will be possible”he explained.

More new wind turbines within 10 km of a historic monument

The time seems despite everything to harden, even if the text should be quite modified during its examination in the Assembly. But the absence of a majority in the government makes the forecasts very uncertain. The senators thus adopted an amendment requiring the opinion of the architect of the Bâtiments de France for any installation of wind turbines located within a perimeter of 10 kilometers around a historic monument or a “remarkable heritage site”based moreover on the remarks made in 2020 in the Senate by the current Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, then Minister for Ecological Transition, who denounced “the anarchic development of wind power”.

“We have been asking for this arrangement for a long time in order to take into account the ever-increasing size of the machines which can now exceed 240 meters”, explains Julien Lacaze, president of the Sites and Monuments association. Other provisions curbing wind power could be voted on.


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