Renewable energy law: a new provision that annoys opponents of wind turbines and environmentalists

Will it be more difficult to oppose the construction of a wind farm or a solar power plant, after the adoption, on Tuesday 10 January, of the law on renewable energies (EnR law) ? In any case, the request may now have less chance of succeeding at a hearing in court.

The novelty ? Article 4 of the law, which now makes it easier for builders to obtain exemptions for the realization of certain renewable energy production projects, located in species protection areas. Until now, three conditions were taken into account by the courts to decide whether or not to introduce a project in such an area: the fact that there are no other satisfactory alternatives, the extent of the harm to the habitat of protected species in the area concerned, and the qualification of this project as an “imperative reason of major public interest” (RIIPM).

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Before the court, associations or citizens who opposed these derogations could therefore file an appeal on the basis of one of these three criteria. Some projects have in the past been canceled by the courts, for lack of evidence of “major public interest” presented by the initiators.

The “imperative reason of major public interest” to secure renewable energy projects

But with the passage of the EnR law, this justification can no longer be taken into account for production, transport and renewable energy projects. Article 4 of the text now provides that all renewable energy projects are ” deemed to respond to an “imperative reason of overriding public interest” (RIIPM). The law specifies that these projects will have to meet, upstream, other conditions, still vague, which will be fixed by decree by the Council of State.

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Clearly, behind this complicated wording, the new legislation therefore plans to secure the construction of certain renewable energy development projects – including when they are contested – in the name of the general interest. The concept of RIIPM, which until now has remained quite vague in the law, is also a tool already used to defend the construction of certain constructions in other projects.

According to the majority, this new measure was enshrined in law with a clear objective: to limit the number of possible appeals against the advent of an RE project and to reduce the volume of procedures to accelerate the construction of wind turbines and other solar power plants. According to one of the rapporteurs of the law, the deputy Renaissance Pierre Cazeneuve, questioned by Le Figarothis will do save significant time by focusing any appeals on other criteria that are truly biodiversity-focused “.

“The government wants to bring down the current case law”

The argument does not really convince Adeline Paradeise, a lawyer specializing in environmental law. ” It can secure legally and remove the vagueness around certain files, explains the specialist. But that does not ultimately change much on the issues of deadlines, which are mainly related to the means that we give to justice and the time we leave to judges to render a judgment. Moreover, nothing prevents citizens or associations from bringing an action by raising one of the two other remaining conditions to contest the granting of a derogation.

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Appeals, there will always be some, on grounds other than this adds Delphine Batho, deputy and president of the Generation Ecology party. But the reality is that what the government wants to bring down is current case law! ” The former Minister of Ecology regrets the generalization of the qualification of EnR projects in ” imperative reason of overriding public interest ” without distinction ” case by case “ depending on the situation.

Beyond the issue of the reduction of legal disputes, the concern of environmental activist circles therefore focuses above all on the consequences for the protection of biodiversity after the vote on this measure. Faced with this decision, the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) regretted a “significant setback” in the legislation and an appeal ” broad and systematic to the notion of imperative reason of overriding public interest “.

Among anti-wind activists, such as Bruno Ladsous, we also denounce a provision “aberrant”. For this fervent detractor of these installations, the qualification of wind turbines in RIIPM ” cannot be demonstrated “. ” The article in question mentions that renewable energy projects are “deemed to respond” to RIIPMs. But that doesn’t mean anything, it’s absurd! », Explains this figure of the anti-wind movement.

“The opposite of what the scientific community recommends today”

Another concern: the possibility in the law of also passing under the qualification of “imperative reason of major public interest” infrastructures ancillary to the renewable energy production network. The law provides that any installation for the production and storage of renewable energies, ” including their connection works to energy transport and distribution networks will actually be affected by the RIIPM.

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In principle, any renewable energy project now enjoys the right to destroy protected species criticizes Delphine Batho, particularly vehement against the disposition during the debates in the hemicycle. This is the opposite of what the scientific community recommends today, which is to deal jointly with climate issues and the issues of the collapse of biodiversity. To say that one objective prevails over the other is absurd. »

Last hope for the opponents of this new measure: since the text was adopted in an accelerated procedure, the article concerning the RIIPM can be retouched one last time in a joint committee, before the promulgation of the law.

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Renewable energy law: a new provision that annoys opponents of wind turbines and environmentalists

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