Offshore wind: “Can the Mediterranean accommodate such a development ?”, asks the guarantor of the debate

Offshore wind: “Can the Mediterranean accommodate such a development ?”, asks the guarantor of the debate

Etienne Ballan garant du débat public sur la mer en général, l'éolien en particulier. MIDI LIBRE – Y.P.

Etienne Ballan est le délégué régional Méditerranée pour le débat public. Débuté fin novembre, cette grande consultation nationale prend fin le 26 avril.

Does the public debate on the Mediterranean launched at the end of November manage to exist in the context of economic and international crises ?

Yes, it’s not secondary at all. There is a big mobilization of users online and in meetings, we have done 80 in person, because we deal with all the subjects of the sea: there is wind power which is planned, but moreover rsquo;others mention biodiversity, fishing or the question of the coastline.

What does it come out of??

The themes where the State, which contacted us, has specific requests are areas of strong protection of biodiversity, wind power and the evolution of fishing. But questions of biodiversity raise the most expectations: in particular on the State's promise to provide 5% strong protection of the sea, already impacted by pollution or global warming .

Regarding wind power, the concern is visibility from the edge…

The concerns are indeed the question of view, the impact on biodiversity through birds, waves and that of noise which is major. But the real issue is the change in scale and “fill” of the Gulf of Lion.

What the State is proposing is a three to fivefold increase in the number of wind turbines, the public realizes that they will occupy a significant part of the sea. rsquo;extension of the parks after 2032 will be on the same sites, the State says: “I am not changing, I am staying where the conditions are favorable”.

The 48km2 area selected off the coast of Occitanie for the first commercial park was identified in November.

There are still territories which have not seen or are poorly seen that they are concerned, like in Agde where we had a meeting on Wednesday: the area is closer to Agde than of Narbonnaise. Elected officials and the public have not yet completely understood that it is a question of increasing the number of wind turbines in this sector. In fact, the question is: can the Gulf of Lion accommodate such a development? With, in the background, the idea that emerges as ;is that the sea is already “full” as some have told us, saturated with activities and pollution.

The conclusion of the previous debate on wind power said that people wanted feedback from experimental farms before generalization. The State did not take it into account, some consider this new debate unnecessary…

Public debate is useless: the State has decided to respond negatively to public demands, it has the right to do so. There, nothing is decided, implementation ranges are proposed. Today, there are four scenarios put on the table by the energy sector, including that of stopping development at sea, even if it is not the one it prefers. The debate serves to show that there are possible options with more or less wind power in the Mediterranean.

Let us also remember that in the debate, environmental NGOs are united: they do not want machines in marine protected areas (MPAs), under penalty of going to court. The State is also responsible for AMP… The decision has not been made on these subjects either.

The general public can still express themselves?

Yes and we are waiting for the first results of the debate on which he can react. It's not too late and it's now or never: it's before April 26 that we're talking about wind power for the 25 years to come, after, the State – and the law was amended accordingly – will be able to move forward quietly on all projects for ten years without further debate. And when it's done, it'll be done.

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