A circular of September 16 enjoins the prefects to reduce the time required to examine current and future wind farm projects, despite numerous oppositions. The Elysée has confirmed that a bill will be presented to support the effort.
The executive is determined to accelerate on wind power: the Elysée announced a visit by Emmanuel Macron on September 22 to the offshore wind farm in Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), the first in France, in order to present the “main axes” of the bill for the acceleration of renewable energies, which will be presented to the Council of Ministers on 26 September. This text aims, according to the Elysée, to shorten the time required to set up facilities, in particular by simplifying administrative procedures.
At the same time, a circular dated September 16 obtained by the specialized site Context enjoins the prefects to “implement all the actions required” to accelerate the renewable energy projects in progress, including wind farms, while these are sources of regular controversy in public opinion.
Highlighting the energy crisis, four ministers, including those of the Interior, the Ecological Transition and the Energy Transition, thus ask the decentralized State services to “put in place all the actions required to facilitate and speed up the processing of files […] current and future”, ensuring “that no instruction exceeds 24 months, except in very exceptional circumstances”. The decentralized services of the State are also invited to set themselves “an objective of 18 months between the date of filing of a project for the renewal or increase in power of existing wind farms, and its implementation”.
These new orientations come at a time when the development of wind projects is arousing more and more opposition, such as those to the wind farm planned off the island of Oléron, or to that envisaged near the islands of Noirmoutier and ‘Yeu. These disputes are also led by quite diverse actors, from fishermen to defenders of the coast and heritage, through associations such as the League for the Protection of Birds. With regard to onshore wind power, The world recently mentioned “mass litigation”, with appeals filed against seven out of ten projects, according to a member of the Renewable Energy Union.
Despite this strong reluctance, the government therefore intends to have a bill adopted in the fall to speed up the procedures and catch up with France’s delay in wind and solar power compared to the objectives set by the multiannual program of the energy. This also provides, from 2024, the launch of calls for tenders “on extensions of offshore wind farms previously awarded”.
Wind power was until a few months ago considered less of a priority for the government, Emmanuel Macron had moreover revised downwards, in his speech in Belfort on February 10, France’s ambitions in terms of the development of onshore wind power, in the face of the disputes they raise. But he had already incriminated, in this same speech, excessively cumbersome procedures and “delays [qui] are not bearable”, and set the objective of providing France with around fifty wind farms at sea by 2050.
“We must not tell stories by saying [que] the French company is ready to deploy [l’éolien] twice, three times faster”, had judged for her part the Minister of Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher in an interview with AFP in May. However, her discourse has evolved since she expressed the wish, at the beginning of September, to reconcile a “massive development [des renouvelables] with the essential protection of biodiversity, with our food sovereignty and with the preservation of our living environments”.
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