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in the Lot, a photovoltaic park project divides inhabitants, elected officials and breeders

Near Cahors in the Lot, residents are mobilizing against a future park of photovoltaic panels planned in the town of Tour-de-Faure. The opponents of the project wanted by TotalEnergies will march this Saturday, October 29, to say that they do not want these thousands of panels on 19 hectares, or more than 20 football fields.

The project is located on a plateau overlooking the hills of the Lot valley. Part of the affected area is in front of a footpath. On this very dry land, the trees are not very tall. Marie Cordié-Levy lives ten minutes from here. She is part of the Environmental Collective Lot Célé (CELC) which opposes the project. “I come here all the time with my grandchildren, my childrensays the activist. It’s a place to walk, it’s a place to rest. It’s a wonderful place, it’s magical. There are going to be 2.50m high barriers around the thing, so we can’t even go there anymore.”

“It’s part of the Causses du Quercy regional natural park. It’s our lungs. If we do that, I’d be ashamed to leave it to my grandchildren.”

Marie Cordié-Levy, Lot Célé environmental collective

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All of the land in question is private. The five owners have given their consent to TotalEnergies. The town hall of Tour-de-Fort issued a building permit in 2020. And for the deputy mayor, Jean-Louis Eyroles, the area concerned is not exceptional: “To call it magnificent seems to me to be an exaggeration. It is a vegetal zone but it is not of great interest in terms of appearance. There is no forest as such. There are trees, but not noble woods, it is essentially pine. Of course, we cannot be fully satisfied with the disappearance of a certain number of trees, but nevertheless, this project represents only a very small part of the massif .”

The deputy specifies that there will be no impact on the view from and to Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, barely a bluish spot from the heights of the famous village. With all these panels, TotalEnergies must produce the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of 7,300 households each year. And the town hall intends to collect 10,000 euros per year in taxes. But for the Environmental Collective Lot Célé, the size of the project is a problem. “It’s a factoryis indignant Marie Cordié-Levy. We are going to see photovoltaic fields like in Spain, that is to say entire hills covered with photovoltaics, is that what we want? is it the profitability argument?

While we could make it smaller, advances Jean-Luc Vallet, the mayor of Brengues, from a small nearby town. He is also vice-president of Céléwatts, a collaborative company which has already built small photovoltaic parks. “We are for reasonable photovoltaics. We are proposing as an alternative what is called a cluster of photovoltaic parks, that is to say small parks which produce the equivalent of the consumption of the average of the municipalities of the Lot For example, the two parks that we have in production at the moment. These are parks that produce for 250 people each. We occupy an average of 5,000 m².”

And then there is the question of the protection of local wildlife that the project threatens, according to Marie Cordié-Lévy: “There are deer, wild boar, deer. We see them frequently, it’s magic. I don’t know how the deer will get under the gates. Unless you take a potion like Alice in Wonderland. The animals are wild, you have to let them run where they want.” The town hall replies that there will be corridors between each of the three zones. “It was imposed on TotalEnergies to carry out a study by naturalists and botanists, over the four seasons, in order to identify the species found in this sector. Everything will be done to protect them”explains Jean-Louis Eyrolles.

in the Lot, a photovoltaic park project divides inhabitants, elected officials and breeders

For its supporters, the project of TotalEnergies also has an interest: to support breeding. Martin Vignals raises sheep right next to the area concerned. He owns two hectares included in the project, for which TotalEnergies will pay him rent. The company will also pay him so that his animals graze under the photovoltaic panels. “The animals will graze on the entire plantdetails the breeder. They also provide fencing, water troughs and electrical posts. The grass, it is missing, and the fact of being able to develop this land in pasture with the guarantee that it will be organic and before the panels are implanted to be able to sow a multi-species meadow that I will do myself.

“I’m really waiting to see what it’s going to be like, but ideally, it’s a project that would make it possible to consolidate the installation and prevent me from running from right to left to gain grass, to be able to stay nearby. It’s a financial comfort but above all a working comfort.”

Martin Vignals, breeder

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The breeder could see his herd increase from 200 to 300 animals. This will require the public investigator to issue a favorable opinion in November, before the decision of the prefect, who will have the last word normally before the end of the year. TotalEnergies plans one year of work, and depending on recourse, plans to commission it by 2025.

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