Interview with Pascal Legendre, president of the Mézinais local council community in the Lot et Garonne region.
At the start of the project, the community purchased a former industrial waste site to develop an economic project and photovoltaic energy was the opportunity they wanted to take advantage of. The 20 hectare parcel of land that has hosted a ground-mounted power plant since April 2016 is shared between two owners, a private holder and the local municipality. “We had a good understanding with Urbasolar, for example regarding aesthetic aspects to preserve the landscape which, in our area, is mostly forested, and for the work involved in removing the asbestos of previous constructions. We did also have some citizens who were initially opposed to the project, in particular hunters, who were worried about the wood pigeons’ migratory path. Environmental studies put these worries to rest and, today, the solar plant has been very well accepted.” Legendre points out that these engagements for sustainable development are part of the times but that, beyond that, royalties and rental income that go back to the community are essential benefits. “This project has also allowed us to grow the intentions of our region. We can still do more with photovoltaic energy; it’s not just a trend. And we have the desire to have schools participate by using this photovoltaic power plant as an educational site. In this way, we are preparing the future for the following generations.” Pascal Legendre insists that these projects must be accepted by the local population. “Of course it is necessary to have a political vision for the development of the community’s land within the framework of the energy transition. But I am for a mix of all energy sources: solar, wind, hydraulic, biomass, and even nuclear, even if there is legitimate concern because it can be dangerous. There needs to be more use of renewable energies, but it is impossible to do it without nuclear energy or we need to considerably change our lifestyles, which we don’t seem to be prepared to do.” The president of the local council community describes himself as an optimist for the future and advices elected officials to seriously consider any renewable energy projects, in particular solar power.
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