MPs in France say wind turbines must not add to ‘visual saturation’

New wind farm projects must consider other power sources in the area, and the effect on the landscape. Critics say this ‘goes against’ energy diversification objectives

A close up photo of a wind turbine in Moselle, France
Any wind farm must take into account existing sources of power in the area and its possible effect on ‘visual saturation’ on the landscape, the bill said
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MPs in France have supported a legal bill stating that any wind farm or installation of wind turbines must take into account “visual saturation”, to avoid damage to landscape views.

Renaissance MP and former Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili admitted that the issue was a “contentious can of worms” and said she realised that it would open the door to all “the anti-wind turbine” campaigners.

However, the bill does not ban wind turbines, and recognises the need to “diversify” energy production sources.

Green MP Delphine Batho said that the proposed law authorises the installation of wind turbines, but that any plans for a new farm must take into account the “number of facilities already existing in the territory concerned", in order to “diversify sources of renewable energy locally" and "to prevent the effects of visual saturation".

‘Endless litigation’

Some MPs have criticised the plan.

Renaissance MP and rapporteur on the bill, Pierre Cazeneuve, proposed an amendment, stating that the current law already “satisfied” this criteria. He said that the spirit of the bill “went against legislation” seeking to develop more renewable energy sources.

He stated: “You’re introducing new criteria – the mix of energy and ‘saturation’ – which are not defined in hard law. You are leaving the door open to endless litigation.”

Ecology Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher also said she feared the new rule would be a “lever to create contention”.

However, MPs from left-wing alliance Nupes, as well as from les Républicains, le Rassemblement Nationale, and a handful of MPs from the ruling party, voted against getting rid of the measure.

Yet, during the same session, the presidential party pushed back on attempts from some MPs to reinstate an amendment that would require approval from l'Architecte des Bâtiments de France for any wind turbine project located within 10km of a historic monument.

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