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“Our hydroelectric plant could have powered 20% of the homes in the valley”


VIDEO – Justice demands that the hydroelectric power station of Sallanches (Haute-Savoie) be destroyed, after the association France Nature Environnement accused it of harming biodiversity. The work was to cover 20% of the needs of the municipality, and save 700 tons of...

In the brand new building that houses the hydroelectric turbine of Sallanches, the machines are strangely silent.

On the electrical cabinets, the control screens only await a combination of commands to set the imposing device in motion.

“The pipe that turns the turbine is filled with water, everything is ready to operate”, popularizes (explains) François Juret, director of the Régie Gaz Électricité de Sallanches.

Scheduled for the start of December last, the launch of the plant was thwarted by the courts.

Seized by the association France Nature Environnement, the administrative court of Grenoble overturned the prefectural decree allowing the turbining of the river on December 6, 2022.

Read also“It’s nonsense”: in Haute-Savoie, a hydroelectric project suspended by environmental activists

As part of the Positive Energy Territories program, which notably commits municipalities to turning to clean energy production sources, the municipality launched this project more than ten years ago.


A hydroelectric power plant then seemed to us to be the most natural renewable energy in mountain territory

", recalls François-Gaël Juret, director of the Sallanches gas electricity board.

After the exploratory studies, launched in 2013, the impact study began, which was studied for four years.

The tenacious opposition of France Nature Environnement

France Nature Environnement was then one of the only notable opponents of the project.

The association intends to preserve the Sallanche river, classified as a biological reserve, from any infrastructure, and considers the impact study insufficient to determine the consequences for biodiversity.

His arguments are not enough to convince the rapporteur of the public inquiry, who gives a favorable opinion.

This decision will serve as support for the prefect, who, in 2019, gives authorization to the Régie to use the electromotive force of the Sallanche.

If the judges' ecological vision is to prefer importing solar panels from China rather than allowing the construction of a hydroelectric power station that does not disturb biodiversity in any way, I no longer know what my place is in this beautiful society.

François-Gaël Juret, Director of the Sallanches Gas Electricity Authority

The association sticks to its positions and formulates two appeals against the central: a first in summary proceedings, a second on the merits.

After winning the case in the summary judgment, and the condemnation of FNE for abusive procedure, the Sallanches gas electricity company, considering the legitimacy of the project confirmed, is starting the work in the spring of 2020.

An interpretation of the judges

The plant is commissioned in early December 2022, and should produce its first kilowatt hours immediately.

But the judgment on the merits calls into question ten years of procedure, hitherto one-sided.

The judges then consider that the work constitutes a “

substantial modification of hydrology


This expression defines one of the legal limits facing hydraulic infrastructures.

For the preservation of the watercourse, they can divert, in the penstock, only a limited part of the flow of the river.

This limit is not precisely defined quantitatively.

So it's up to the judges to decide.

Read alsoSallanches: discord in the Pays du Mont-Blanc

The management is now suspended from the judgment on appeal.

New arguments, which he intends to put forward, allow François-Gaël Juret to serenely apprehend the deadline.

For him, the court can only “

make a coherent decision

”, which would validate the project.

And to conclude: "

If the ecological vision of the judges is to prefer importing solar panels from China rather than allowing the construction of a hydroelectric power station which in no way disturbs biodiversity, I no longer know what my place is in this beautiful society


Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-03-30

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