Friday, 21 March 2014

Our Wind Farm in Blanzay / Romagne

It’s been known for some time now, 9 or 10 years at any rate that a number of sites in the area have been selected as places for wind turbines with all the relevant wind speed and duration tests completed and found to be satisfactory and one thing we certainly have here is wind for much of the year.

Then came the preliminary approvals for the ones proposed near us with the two relevant Mairies, (Romagne and Blanzay), giving their consent.

Well folks, there are a few things that always rattle peoples cages and having a wind farm being built close to where you live is one of them and it wasn't long before some of the local residents were “getting organised” and preparing to fight this proposed outrage. As with all such projects there was an opportunity for people to make their views known and register their objections or indeed support.

At some point some people formed an association – the Association de Défense et de Protection de l’Environnement de Blanzay (ADPEB) with the aim of presenting a case based on, well, protecting the environment of course, saving birds and bats and stuff like that. This came as something of a surprise to me because up to this point there has been a remarkable lack of interest from the inhabitants in our local environment and bio-diversity as it has been systematically destroyed over recent years, but maybe this has been a "Road to Damascus moment" for some people, we’ll see how much interest they have in the future and I look forward to working with them, there’s plenty that needs changing starting with simple initiatives such as reinstating hedgerows and not continually slashing the roadsides margins.

To cut a long story short the Prefet approved the construction although the Enquiry Commissioner actually recommended against it. The Prefet was of the view that it was merely an opinion which did not bind their decision and it was their responsibility to seek the opinion of administrative services, municipal councils concerned, as well as members of the Commission Departementale de Ia Nature, des Paysages et des Sites (CDNPS). The later would be one or more recognised organisations that would have carried out environmental impacts studies. In the Vienne organisations such as the LPO Vienne and Vienne Nature, the recognised Ornithological and Nature Associations for the Department or a structure such as Biotope are used for this. In this instance the commitment to renewable, clean energy would be considered to far outweigh any minor impact on wildlife which would indeed be negligible at this site and restricted mainly to birds. Although any additional impact is unfortunate it pales into insignificance when compared to what has happened and what is happening to the local habitat. There will undoubtedly be deaths of small birds and one or two of the larger species of birds of prey may suffer casualties as well but realistically of these only Buzzards and Honey Buzzards remain as nesting birds that are likely to collide with the blades. Hen and Montagu’s Harrier have had their nesting possibilities all but ended years ago by modern farming practices and these local fields are now virtually useless as prey hunting zones, (intensive cultivation and lack of voles). Goshawk and Sparrowhawk  are unlikely to come into contact and the nearest nesting site I know for Black kite is about 12km away. Some people have said that Cranes, some of which pass this way on migration, will be in danger and there may be an outside possibility of this but generally the flight altitude of Cranes will take them clear of the turbines.

The final throw of the dice has been the threat by the manager of La Vallee des Singes, a local animal park principally for primates, to close the business and relocate elsewhere. He had requested that the nearest turbine should be no nearer than 3km to the animal park rather than the 1.6km which is proposed because the infra sound would disturb the primates.

Much has also been made of the loss of employment and other losses to the local economy should La Vallee des Singes relocate to another site although this would in fact be a net gain for the wider economy with the construction of a new animal park creating employment while the existing park remained open until the new park was able to accommodate the primates with the existing jobs simply transferring to the new location.

Living as we do with the nearest turbine 600 metres from our property I would naturally be happy to see them being built elsewhere, especially as there is likely to be a negative effect on property prices, but to simply take the attitude of "Not in my back yard" when there is no good reason to oppose them would be hypocritical in the extreme, therefore I have remained neutral throughout the legal processes. The wider debate about wind generation, its effectiveness and how it’s financed is another matter but there is little doubt that it is now a significant and increasing part of "renewable energy production" in many countries and cannot be opposed using spurious disingenuous arguments.

The company concerned is ALSTOM

LPO Vienne 

Vienne Nature 


Maps and notices, click to enlarge images.

UPDATE  22nd March.

Well it now seems following a meeting at the Prefecture that Emmanuel Le Grelle the manager of La vallée des singes in Romagne has decided to pursue what could potentially be a long drawn out legal challenge.

Translated quotes.

"The authority to operate the wind farm was issued by a prefectural order on January 8, 2014. As of this date, I have six months to refer a case to the court. As for the building permit signed by the mayor on 28 February, it was posted last Tuesday. That leaves me two months to file a petition."

"While the courts have not settled, the work will not take place, he predicts. No bank will risk lending money. And as I have decided to go all the way, including before the Council of State, if necessary, this gives us five to seven years!"

Additionally Emmanuel Le Grelle said he had no news of the criminal complaint he filed for “illegal interest” against three current councilors of Blanzay, who he suspects have a personal interest in the wind farm development.

Full article in French