Côte-d’Or: strong opposition for a wind turbine project in the middle of a protected forest

No to the massacre of birds, no to the massacre of the forest. This is, in a way, a summary of the incomprehension and anger of more than 10,000 people who signeda petition against the installation of wind turbines in the Ouche valley
The so-called “Grands Communaux” project is carried out by the Avignon-based company Q Energy France. It is 13 wind turbines which will be 180 meters high at the end of the blades. They must take place in forests, above the municipalities of Saint-Jean-de-Boeuf and Antheuil. The public inquiry commission has just issued a favorable opinion to this project and the opponents do not understand. What is annoying this time is not the proximity to houses, because the nearest house will be more than a kilometer from the first wind turbine. No, what’s annoying is that This project is located in the middle of the forest, in a protected Natura 2000 area.

The valley seen from La Bussiere-sur-Ouche © Radio France
Olivier Estran

A threat to raptors?

“I’m not against wind turbines, but why here?” asks Yves Curis of the Friends of the Earth association. “Only 15% of the surface area of ​​the Côte-d’Or is classified as a Natura 2000 zone, so why not put them elsewhere? We have a magnificent area here” he sighs. “We fear for protected birds such as the Short-toed Short-toed, the black stork, and the Great Eagle Owl which can be caught and torn to pieces by the blades of these machines. The population of these birds is so fragile that the The death of a single individual can call into question their presence here.”

“There is also all the deforestation and forest management” underlines Jean-Yves who lives between the two municipalities concerned. “It is expected that 700 trucks will come to dump concrete to build the base of the wind turbines, not counting all the scrap metal. There will inevitably be an impact, and not only for protected species.”

“We do not understand the favorable opinion of the commission of inquiry, so three-quarters of the people who came to speak are against this project” he regrets.

Visible or invisible?

The question of landscape is obviously at the heart of concerns. “Some wind turbines will be clearly visible in our town” ensures Estelle Boniface, mayor of La Bussière-sur-Ouche. “We will see them from the Abbey, from the town hall, from the church square. I am not sure that this corresponds to the expectations of the inhabitants who have come to settle here or that our tourists will like it. “

“No, wind turbines will not disfigure the landscape” retort Michel Mercier, the mayor of Saint-Jean-de-Boeuf who supports this project alongside his colleagues from Antheuil and Aubaine. “The opponents have produced photo montages which are misleading. I assure you that we will not see anything from the valley. Or barely a piece of blade emerging from the forest. Frankly, if the promoter had told me” we are going to stick our wind turbines on the hill, 750 meters from the houses, I would have said no without hesitation. But there this project will be almost invisible and compatible with the environment.”

The Ouche Valley, magnificent for its forests © Radio France
Olivier Estran

“The company Q Energy France obtained an exemption, because they are committed to putting cameras and thermal sensors on their wind turbines. Systems capable of detecting bats and raptors remotely and stopping the wind turbine if an animal approach. As for the forest, the space that will be taken will be compensated by reforestation which will not be touched for 30 years to promote biodiversity.”

“A positive project for the environment” assures the Public Inquiry Commission

“Everyone is for renewable energies, but not at home” snaps the mayor. “No one has raised a finger against the installation of high-voltage lines crossing the valley, but we are opposed to the wind turbines. I don’t understand!”

In its conclusions the public inquiry commission writes in black and white that “the carbon footprint of the “Grands Communaux” wind project is largely positive with the release of approximately 47,319 tonnes of CO2 avoided per year, including CO2 storage losses caused by land clearing and deforestation. As a result, the Grands Communaux wind farm will have positive effects on the environment and on the health of residents who are less exposed to air pollution caused by human activity.”

“We won’t see anything from the valley, barely a piece of blade sticking out” assures Mayor Michel Mercier © Radio France
Olivier Estran

“We make no secret of it, there will also be economic benefits for our small towns” underlines Michel Mercier. “It is estimated at 500,000 euros to be shared with the commune of Antheuil and the community of communes. Enough to double my municipal budget!” he enthuses. “Here, it’s not the plain of Genlis. When I was little, there were seven farmers in Saint-Jean-de-Bœuf, there is only one farmer today. If we refuse wind turbines, what do we have left?”

Will the project see the light of day? The answer belongs to the prefect of Côte-d’Or which should make its decision at the end of the year.

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