Corrèze is a French rural department counting many forests and other preserved ecosystems. Industrial wind turbine projects have been flourishing in this county since 2000, with about 190 wind turbines (about 200m high in average) in at least 31 distinct projects in March 2020 . While the first projects were often cancelled due to a strong opposition from the locals (12 projects cancelled so far), the promoters changed their approach since 2010. They took advantage of the new law on the “national commitment for environment” and particularly of the new status of Installation Classified for Environmental Protection (ICPE - Installations classées pour la protection de l'environnement) regarding wind turbines . Most of these new projects are still in development, and opposition has risen across the whole county through networks of local resistance.
The wind project of Péret-Bel-Air and Davignac (Puy Péret) is promoted since 2009 by the SARL “Parc éolien du Puy Péret”, a subsidiary company of Valeco. It consists of constructing 4 wind turbines of 2,4 MW each and 178m high. This requires the clearing of 3 hectares of woodland . One of Valeco’s previous projects (“Puy de Blanche”, 2km from there) had already been cancelled a few months ago although it was being planned since 2000 as a result of numerous judicial procedures and the continuous opposition of the local association “Vent de Corrèze”. The final jurisdiction ruled in favour of the opposition, putting emphasize on the “damage to a remarkable landscape” .
For the Puy Péret project, the company first contacted the locally elected officials in 2009 to present its new project. Then, they met the local landowners to rent their land at a very attractive price (around 7,000 euros / year), urging them to sign an emphyteutic lease promise (legally very binding). They engaged other bureaucratic procedures before any public consultation. They applied for a building permit, demanded the environmental authority’s notice, and engaged in environmental and landscape expertise this time  .
The arguments put forward are financial and environmental, supported by a technical and economic justification. In the document intended for the public, we can read that wind power would be "reliable and secure", its rapid development would make it "financially promising" thanks to the long-term contract (15 years) engaging the public French electricity company EDF to buy wind electricity at a competitive fixed price. In addition, it would contribute to the protection of the environment by reducing CO₂ emissions by replacing thermal plants (coal, gas, wood/biomass) which emit a lot. They present their sector as generating "clean" electricity, protecting biodiversity (by reducing emissions) while creating jobs. According to them, the noise level of a wind turbine would not be a problem and would be "[without] direct health consequences for local residents". A "careful" study would treat the integration into the landscape, and the economic benefits for owners, municipalities, and communities of municipalities are highlighted . The administrative request, more technical and more nuanced, explains the rehabilitation of the sites damaged by land clearing and wind turbines at the end of the project (20 years) while justifying the project with the national energy policy, the ICPE status, and the associated environmental expertise, as well as the technical and financial capacities of the sector .
While the elected representatives of the municipalities gave Valeco a favorable opinion on this project, the local associations "Vent de Corrèze", "Agir pour le plateau des étangs" (APE), and "Agir Autrement Pour La Xaintrie" (AAPLX) vigorously protest. Their arguments are technical, ecological, political, and relating to the well-being of the local population. A public inquiry was opened in 2017 (8 years after the project’s starting point), allowing the first consultation of local populations (excluding elected officials and landowners). APE points out the nuisance for the population and for the environment of such a project. Valeco's approach is strongly criticized, it is experienced as being a marketing manipulation of people with little information (elected officials and owners in particular). The consultations did not take place and for them the information meetings akin to the sale of the project by their promoters rather than a real debate. The technical and financial elements of the dossier intended for the public are criticized point by point . As in communication strategy operations, the advantages are often the only ones to appear, and the disadvantages are minimized . For example, wind power in France does not reduce carbon emissions because electricity production based on nuclear power is already carbon-free, so the arguments for climate change and the protection of biodiversity are biased . On the contrary, the impact on woodlands and bats would be significant, and acoustic health nuisances are recognized by the National Academy of Medicine which recommends a minimum distance of 1000 m between wind turbines and houses (in contrast to less than 600 m here) . AAPLX goes further by widely denouncing the industrial energy projects that have existed for a long time in the region. The municipalities have been polluted by uranium mining waste resulting from Areva industrial nuclear activities since 1960 .
The energy transition is seen as a continuation of polluting activities with the sole aim of private financial profit (made possible only by the state subsidies because Corrèze is a region with very little wind ). They express their profound lack of confidence in the 'authorities' concerning the real pollution, recalling the "alleged harmlessness of soils polluted with uranium residues", and they refuse to submit to what they qualify as "colonizing methods based on the feeling of guilt ". Indeed, the dynamic consisting in importing natural resources (here electricity from the wind) while exporting pollution (here landscape, sound, visual, linked to biodiversity) is based on the same processes of unequal colonial exchanges dictated by the global North to the Global South at the urban-rural scale (electricity for cities, wind turbines in the countryside). They also point out that the construction of 1 turbine requires about 600 kg of rare earth elements, which generate heavy pollutions during their extraction and refinement and take place far from France, in China .
The public inquiry committee gives a favorable opinion on the project by directly excluding remarks which "go far beyond the scope of the investigation" to answer only the technical and financial aspects . These are analysed again, and Valeco sends a brief in response to these critics, detailing some technical aspects . This response is deemed "satisfactory and detailed", and the other aspects being "in accordance with the legislation in force" the latest criticisms are dismissed . The prefect finally grants the building permit in 2018 .
Actually, the objections to the substance of the project are not addressed. The opacity of the procedures and the impossibility for the local populations to give their opinion while being informed, the well-being of the inhabitants and the merits of the project in the context of Corrèze do not carry much weight in the face of the "green ideology and [capitalist] political speeches ”. An information document aiming to be “factual” is written by representatives of local municipalities, several associations, and professional organizations "in an attempt to rebalance exchanges between local elected officials and wind power promoters" . The landscape is recognized as a collective good in that it is important for collective identity and personal well-being. Besides, the (non-binding) unfavorable opinion of the CDNPS is also motivated among others by the “remarkable” aspect of this landscape .
The association "Vents de Corrèze" initiated an appeal in January 2018. It is currently awaiting judgment at the Administrative Court of Limoges . An open letter was sent to the candidates for the municipal elections of 2020 .