In the menu of 20 articles: transitional measures for 48 months to simplify procedures (relief in environmental assessment obligations or extension of public voting through electronic means), proliferation of the possibility of installing solar panels (obligation for equipment in large car parks , possibility of installation on abandoned roads), compilation of discussions by the coast for offshore wind power.
The text further encourages “value sharing” of renewable projects with local people.
France was late
The Council of State and the National Council for Environmental Change have taken up the text, which is to be submitted to the Council of Ministers by mid-September.
“France is lagging behind” compared to its European neighbours, acknowledges the text in its explanatory note, questioning administrative and legal red tape. It takes ten years to build an offshore wind farm, twice as long as elsewhere. France has produced electrons from its first marine park, Saint-Nazaire.
Usually the host country of the Paris Agreement against global warming behind its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissionsAnd Emmanuel Macron announced increased targets for renewables in February.
France wants to increase solar power by tenfold, surpassing 100 gigawatts and building 50 offshore wind farms to reach 40 gigawatts by 2050. However, doubling offshore wind capacity to 40 gigawatts is slower than expected in ten years instead of thirty years.
“There are a lot of good ideas” in the bill, congratulated Jean-Louis Paul, head of the Renewable Energy Union (SER). “We are obviously very positive about the simplification measures, especially offshore wind power”: “It will reduce the project development time significantly”, he notes. But he cautions: “Many things will be decided in decrees”.
On the other hand, the reception at the League for the Preservation of Birds (LPO) has been very negative, lamenting the “completely sectoral” plan that “completely forgets the issues of biodiversity”. “How can wind power be placed in protected natural sites, Natura 2000 sites, migration corridors?”, exasperates Yves Verilhac, director general of the LPO.
“IPBES (Editor’s Note: UN Biodiversity Experts) states that the artificialization of ecosystems is the main cause of biodiversity loss. But what do we propose? Installation of full-field photovoltaic panels in previously unfeasible sectors, flouting mountain law, coastal law etc. “The best allies of renewable energies like LPO are leaving. This is indefensible,” said judge Yves Verilhac.
Discussions in October
Some measures also raise legal issues, such as the possibility of “too easily raising the thresholds for submission to formal environmental assessment”. The idea is to exempt small projects from this long and expensive procedure.
A move against the principle of “non-regression” that emerged from the 2016 Biodiversity Act. This principle implies that environmental protection is “subject only to continuous improvement”. The bill “neutralizes it by explaining that it’s a symbolic, decorative principle and that we can no longer rely on it in front of a judge,” explains attorney Arnaud Kozment.
“For the first time in the history of environmental law, a legislator must neutralize the general principle of a law of his own making”; “It’s very dangerous because it sets a precedent,” he said.