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Off-shore wind mills project next to the island of Oleron, France

Since 2014, the French State planned to build a windmills park near the coast of Oléron island (largely extended in 2022). This was resisted by environmental groups, local fishermen and population.


The project started in 2014 with a plan for an off-shore park of 60 to 80 windmills in an area of 120km2, at 15km of the port of la Cotinière, for a total power of 500MW. The park was supposed to bring electricity to 650 000 inhabitants, meaning the whole population of Charente maritime, and create 400 to 600 local jobs for the construction, 100 for longer term maintenantce. Its cost was estimated to two billion euros and the plan was for the windmills to start operating in 2023. After a cartographic work and concertation meeting to identidy the area, the project is validated. The German company WPD Offshore won the call for tenders. [2][5]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Off-shore wind mills project next to the island of Oleron, France
State or province:Charente-Maritime, Nouvelle Aquitaine
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Large-scale wind energy plants
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The power of the windmills park would be between 500 and 1000MW, and up to 2000MW in combination with a possible second park. [11]

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Project area:74,300
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/01/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Réseau de Transport d'Electricité France (RTE) from France
WPD Offshore from Germany
Relevant government actors:Commission nationale du débat public (CNDP - National Commission of Public Debate)
Ministère de la Transition Ecologique (Ministry for the Ecological Transition)
Ministère de la Mer (Ministry of the Sea)
Centre d’études et d’expertise sur les risques, l’environnement, la mobilité et l’aménagement (CEREMA - Centre of Studies and Expertise on risks, environment, mobility and development)
ex-Agence des aires marines protégées (former Agency of protected marine areas)
Office français de la biodiversité (French Office for Biodiversity)
Conseil National de la Protection de la Nature (CNPN - National Council for the Protection of Nature)
Comité départemental des pêches de Charente maritime (Local Commity of fisheries in Charente maritime)
Comité Régional des pêches de Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Regional Commity of fisheries in Nouvelle-Aquitaine)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ligue de protection des oiseaux (LPO - League for the Protection of Birds)
Estuaire pour tous (Estuary for All)
Non à l'Eolien Marin à Oléron (NEMO - No the Offshore Windmills in Oléron)
Ré Nature Environnement (Ré Nature Environment)
Ré Avenir (Ré Future)
Nature Environnement 17 (Nature Environment 17)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Self-referral of CNDP to organize a public debate.
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsDisturbance of migratory birds routes [2][3][6], lubricant leaks, oxidation of materials, vibrations disturbing marine mammals and fishes [3][6], loss or modification of habitat for species living in seabed [6].
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsImpossibility for fisher's boats, especially small and medium sized, to go fish in their usual areas where the park would be, so big negative impacts on the local economy [2].
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:During the public debate conducted by the Special Commission for public debate (CPDP) between 2021 and april 2022, some alternatives were proposed by the public.

First, even if the question of wether the project should or not be done at all was not asked in the previous plan, the process of the public debate put it on the table.

Indeed, even if the State said the 2015's concertation were concluded with a consensus, the public debate of 2021 showed it was not the case. By ignoring the question of wether or not doing the project, and already proposing an extension, the State did not set good trust conditions for the population. [12] Up to 15 900 people participated in the debate, and the Commission concluded that the only way to go forward with the project with the consent of the public was to push it foward outwards in the sea. While the public showed its adhesion to the objective of energetic transition, they did not think it was realistic with this project and were arguing in favor of energetic sobriety. They insisted on the poor choice of the area regarding biodiversity, the local economy (fishing, tourism) and the local heritage. Moreover, the CNDP adviced to have a spacial planification with a vision on 20 to 30 years to offer visibility to the local actors.

From this debate emerged an alternative proposed by certains participants: a park of 1GW outside of the natural park and the coastal fishing zone (more than 20 miles), and then a second park more on the west with a mutualized connection. For the fiercest opponents to the project, settling outside the natural park does not eliminate the risks for migratory birds and other marine ecosystem on which there are less knowledge. For other, those hypothesis call for more research.

Another question arising then was the cost, and if it would still be doable in a more remote area. The CNDP asked independant experts. They concluded that, taken into account that the offshore windmills technologies have been progressing very fast those past years, a more remote park could be as competitive pricewise than a coastal one. A change to floating wind power should be considered from a certain distance from the coast. [12]

Thus, the Commission adressed the following recommendation to the Minister of Ecology and the RTE: "submit to the candidates for the future call for tenders a study area that is "sufficiently large and extended further offshore". This suggestion is a priori supported by a first "technical exploration" carried out by two consultancy firms, which it has called upon. The objective: to be able to envisage a wind farm outside the natural marine park and the coastal fishing zone [beyond the 20-mile limit of 70 metres in depth]. "Without exploding the costs", Francis Beaucire explains.

While a local representative in charge of animating the project said that this option will be taken into account, the State and RTE had until july 2022 to answer the observations of the CPDP and determine whether or not they launch competitive bidding for future developers. [14]

On the 27th of July 2022, the State announced there will be a first and then a second call for tenders for the installation of two wind farms of about 1,000 MW each off the island of Oléron. It has also revised its position on their location, and the nearest one to Oléron will be 40 kms distant, outside the natural park and coastal fishery zones. [19]

However, this remains insufficiant for the fishers, environmental organizations and some local representatives. Some call for a zone even further the coast, up to 60 or 70kms away. Some environmental studies are still needed to completely define the construction zone of the projet, which is planned for 2030. [20]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Following the decision of the French State of July 2022 to continue the project in a zone further away from the coast, there are still resistances from environmental organizations, and more environmental investigations to do on the new zone before the beginning of the construction of the projet. [19][20]
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[4] Direction Régionale de l'Environnement, de l'aménagement et du logement (DREAL) Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Consultation du public sur l'éolien en mer au large de l'île d'Oléron, Appel d'offres éolien en mer au large d'Oléron, 8 février 2017.
[click to view]

[19] Décision du 27 juillet 2022 consécutive au débat public portant sur le projet de parcs éoliens en mer en Sud-Atlantique et son raccordement, Journal Officiel du 27 juillet 2022.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[6] Agence des Aires Marines Protégées, Contribution sur la zone identifiée au large de l’île d’Oléron, dans le cadre du projet de définition de zones propices à l’éolien, 8 juillet 2015.
[click to view]

[7] Site officiel du Débat Public Eoliennes en mer Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Le projet en bref, CNDP.
[click to view]

[8] Conseil National de la Protection de la Nature, Autosaisine du CNPN sur le Développement de l’Energie Offshore en France et ses Impacts sur la Biodiversité, le Patrimoine naturel et les Paysages, 6 juillet 2021.
[click to view]

[11] Projet éolien en mer en Sud-Atlantique, Dossier des maîtres d’ouvrage, Débat Public, septembre 2021 – janvier 2022, Gouvernement Français et Réseau de transport électricité, septembre 2021.
[click to view]

[12] Débat Public Eoliennes en mer Nouvelle-Aquitaine, 30 septembre 2021 – 28 avril 2022, Commission National du Débat Public, bilan de la présidente du 28 avril 2022.
[click to view]

[13] Débat Public Eoliennes en mer Nouvelle-Aquitaine, 30 septembre 2021 – 28 avril 2022, Commission National du Débat Public, Compte-rendu établi par le président de la commission particulière du débat public.
[click to view]

[21] Débat public, Projet éolien en mer en Sud-Atlantique, Rapport des maîtres d’ouvrage, Gouvernement français et Réseau de transport d’électricité, juillet 2022.
[click to view]

[1] Le Figaro avec AFP, Ile d'Oléron : un projet de parc éolien en mer sème la discorde, 22 mai 2022.
[click to view]

[3] Union Maritime de La Rochelle, WPD Offshore, 28 juillet 2015.
[click to view]

[5] Bordereaux Laurent, Parc éolien d’Oléron, une tentative de diversion du gouvernement; Le monde de l'énergie, 13 décembre 2021.
[click to view]

[9] Bordereaux Laurent, De la sincérité du futur débat public autour du projet éolien marin d’Oléron, Le Club de Médiapart, 18 mars 2021.
[click to view]

[10] Bordereaux Laurent, Retour sur la sincérité du débat public « éolien en mer – Nouvelle Aquitaine », La Club de Médiapart, 10 février 2022.
[click to view]

[14] Farthouat Anne, Eolien offshore à Oléron: vers un éloignement du parc face à l'hostilité du public?, La Tribune, 10 mai 2022.
[click to view]

[15] Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, Eoliennes au large d’Oléron : la CNDP demande à l’Etat de revoir sa copie, 29 avril 2022.
[click to view]

[16] Bordereaux Laurent, Parc éolien d’Oléron, une tentative de diversion du gouvernement, Le Monde de l’Energie, 13 décembre 2021
[click to view]

[17] Baroux Philippe, Projet éolien au large d'Oléron: un appel d'offres va être lancé, Sud Ouest, 14 juin 2019.
[click to view]

[18] Lanoëlle Agnès, Éolien au large d’Oléron : l’État déplace les éoliennes en dehors du Parc naturel marin, Sud Ouest, 29 juillet 2022.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[2] NoA sur Mer : projet d’un parc éolien offshore sur l'île d'Oléron en Charente-Maritime, Magazine de Tanguy Scoazec, Guillaume Decaix et Olivier Riou, France 3 Nouvelle Aquitaine, 30 mars 2022.
[click to view]

[20] K. Lempereur, J. Champman, C. Cottaz, V. Huon, Éoliennes : à Oléron, l'éloignement d'un parc éolien en mer par le gouvernement ne rassure pas, France Info, 31 juillet 2022.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Nina Limacher
Last update10/08/2022
Conflict ID:6089
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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