To accept wind turbines, plan and better consult

“We are at a key moment!” : The state will have to better plan the energy transition and consult with the French if it wants basic infrastructures, in particular wind turbines, to be taken over to supply the country and decarbonize, urges the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese) in an opinion adopted on Wednesday.

The body was seized in September by Prime Minister Jean Castex “in order to calm the debate and renew the momentum” of the global warming-driven transition.

“The need for an ecological transition seems to be universally recognized today, but the implementation of projects is slow and comes with challenges and democratic demands,” the opinion notes (adopted by 133 votes, one against, 26 abstentions).

He pays special attention to land-based wind turbines, which are the source of most blockages, but notes that this also applies to marine, solar parks or methanization facilities.

“Because when we want to put a hundred photovoltaic parks of a thousand hectares in territories or 50 wind farms in the sea, from the 10th we will have the same problems if we continue to do as we do today,” warns Nicolas Richard, co-rapporteur of the text , referring to the case of Horizeo solar park in Landes, which is “already trying to get through”.

Wind turbine near Allon, Er-et-Loire, January 31, 2022 (AFP/Archive – GUILLAUME SOUVANT)

Chese calls on the state to better coordinate with the territories and “plan” in a “democratic” way, “territorializing” the national energy goals voted in parliament through a “national regional planning program.”

Today, “energy transition management does not provide for real coordination between the state, regions and inter-municipal formations,” and projects are carried out “without a common vision, on the initiative of the developers,” he notes.

– Territorial justice –

“Energy infrastructures, very visible, change the balance of the territory and its landscape. It is logical that part of the resident population feels offended, ”the text says.

And “if the number of people who are really against or for remains generally, locally, limited, then this causes widespread concern among a part of the population.”

Presidential elections 2022: the evolution of the structure of electricity production in France (AFP - Kenan AUGEARD)
Presidential elections 2022: the evolution of the structure of electricity production in France (AFP – Kenan AUGEARD)

Cese recommends “holding a major nationwide public debate on the French Climate Energy Strategy (SFEC)”: “there is an ambiguity in understanding the issues.” And this “public debate” should also “present possible lifestyle changes.”

Because today “we are repeating the debate on every project that did not take place at the national level,” the speakers note: “Most projects stumble over national issues: why wind power and not solar or nuclear? why in me? part of them? etc

In addition, while rural areas will be in high demand, it will be necessary to “balance the solidarity between the territories.”

Projects must be accompanied by a “public service contract” requiring that part of the investment go to a fund dedicated to the transmission of energy and basic services to the population, the conclusion recommends.

The government, charged with the duty of remaining on standby during the election period, will not be in a position to respond immediately. He promised to hold consultations after the legislative elections, when the President announced the restart of the nuclear program, and EDF has already asked for a public debate on the construction of two new EPR reactors.

The next energy programming law is expected by mid-2023, and Cese, in his opinion, calls for the recognition of the “programmatic” nature of the SFEC in order to guarantee broad consultation.

“SFEC is not of a legal nature, so there will be no public debate associated with it,” says Mr. Richard. “We are at a key moment. The French population should make a collective decision. Either we use it as a springboard for a country that works better together, or we deepen divisions and imposed choices will create permanence of discussion. , or ZAD!”

Time is of the essence: “Public consultations should take place at a time when negotiations are still possible and when it is still possible to move forward,” insists co-rapporteur Claire Bordenave. “There will be different positions, but at least everyone will be able to express themselves. As for the decisions made, it is the way they are developed that will be recognized as acceptable.”

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