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1) Thomas GRIMBERT - Conflict around the Pierrelatte biomass plant (France) :

2) General Information :

2-1) Generic conflict Information:

This conflict happened in the commune of Pierrelatte in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. In 2011 a project to implement a Biomass plant in the city in order to feed in hot water social housing and infrastructure. The aim of this EUR 55 million project is to create 85 GWh of electricity and 170 GWh of heat per year and to replace the old implantation, the one of Tricatin, a nuclear plant. This plant officially entered the business on October 4, 2012. It is operated by the company Coriance [4].


2-2) Type of conflict:

As soon as it opens, the implantation creates several questions from the point of view Environmental as from the point of view Economic. Indeed, this implantation to endure must consume up to 150 000 tons of wood per year (this represents 22 semi-trailer trucks per day!). So, there is conflict with the locals, the management of our forests but also with the farmers near the plant. Indeed, the building is very large (180m long and 30m high) which spawns the large shadows worn on the farmers ' greenhouses. This discomfort has thus spawned several tens of thousands of euro of loss for these farmers. So, there are problems of order social [3 ; 4].


                                                                                              Tags on the walls delimiting the plant [4]

2-3) Resources concerned:

As stated previously, this biomass plant has as a resource the Wood. It was planned to be harvested within a 20km radius around the settlement. As the power plant is not performing as expected, the power plant is provided by a boiler at the Gas and the Oil [4].


3) Evaluation of the conflict:

3-1) Main problems and descriptions:

Environmental problems:

-As mentioned above, the implantation must consume 150 000 tons of wood per year. Coriance's objective was to use wood from nearby forests. However, such a request in wood is impossible. Forests to be protected and well managed cannot respond to such a request. To satisfy their needs, wild cuts have taken place in “La Gare des Ramières”, a nature reserve. Even with these wild cuts, according to an activist of the group "Europe Ecology the Greens", the biomass plant consumed 20 000 tons of wood. It is very far from the objectives of the beginning [3; 4].

-To satisfy its needs, we saw that the plant had used oil. The problem was the management of this oil. Indeed, a leak was noticed, it was 35 000L of oil which was spilled [4].

-To end with environmental problems, let's talk about the transport of raw material, wood. The wood is crushed in a mill located at 1.5 km due the plant. The chips are stored on the grinding site. This distance creates a go and come from truck between the two sites. In addition to creating noise nuisances for residents, the grey energy of these shavings increases enormously [4].


Economic and social problem:

-As stated above, farmers in the vicinity are threatened by the shadow created by the settlement. 5 000 m² of greenhouses must be moved so that the crops that are found can continue to grow. The neighboring holding estimates its losses to EUR 80 000 in one year. These losses resulted in the dismissal of 17 employees [4].

-Electricity production was announced at 12 MW, the actual output is only 8 MW. So, the Coriance group has a deficit. Their losses are estimated at EUR 500 000 per annum [1; 5].

-These heavy losses are therefore partly supported by the consumer who has seen his heating bill increase [2].


For a project to be considered a "sustainable development project", it must meet these 3 main criteria. So, we can well see that this project has a very big problem with its initial expectations.

3-2) Main stakeholders involved:

The main stakeholders are Areva, Coriance and the inhabitants of Pierrelatte. Areva is the group that funded and designed the project, Coriance is the group that operates the plant.


3-3) Analysis of the values and interests of stakeholders:

In this conflict, there are two camps. On one side is the embarrassed population and ecological organisms, supported by the EELV (Europe Ecologie Les Verts) which is a French ecological party. Of the other is the large groups of energy Areva and Coriance [4].

3-4) Assessment of the intensity of the conflict:

This conflict remains a peaceful conflict. The gestures of proclamation are demonstrations, discussions with representatives and acts isolated as tags.

3-5) Assessment of possible causes of conflict:

The causes of the conflict are a lack of knowledge about available resources, noise pollution for residents and big environmental and economic problems.

3-6) Key elements that could prevent conflict resolution:

The resolution of such a problem must be resolved through dialogue. The lack of dialogue would therefore be likely to prevent the problem from being resolved.

3-7) main elements likely to encourage conflict escalation:

The conflict would worsen if energy groups continue to work in this way. That is, by continuing to pollute, make noise and not listen to the first concerned, the inhabitants.


4) Conflicting keywords and identifiers:

-Biomass plant
-Wood Supply
-Ecological, economic and social problems


5) References :

[1]: Le Dauphine; Quel est le problème avec la centrale biomasse?

[2]: France Info; Centrale biomasse: polémique à Pierrelatte (Drôme)

[3]: Média Citoyens Diois; La Centrale Biomasse de Pierrelatte va raser nos départements…

[4]: Reporterre; La centrale biomasse de Pierrelatte, projet l'absurde inutile d'AREVA

[5]: Le Dauphine; Les déboires d'Areva avec la centrale biomasse

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