Wind turbines. “Echauffour is the archetype of the environmental scandal”.

The Echauffour wind farm is very close to homes, probably too close (© The Norman Awakening)

In spring 2019, five wind turbines built and operated by Voltalia are put into service at Echauffour. Since the complaints from residents keep piling up as reported on several occasions The Norman Awakening.

On July 4, Fabien Ferreri, one of the most pugnacious representatives of the affected inhabitants, wrote in an email:

We are living in hell: it is regularly impossible to sleep at night and stay outside during the day ”.

According to Philippe Toussaint, President of the Old French Houses, “Echauffour is the archetype of the environmental scandal”.

New acoustic study

The first one acoustic study carried out at the end of 2019 not having given the expected results, “the Prefect signed a formal notice of Voltalia [l’exploitant des éoliennes, Ndlr] to comply with its obligations and to carry out [nouvelle] acoustic study ”, specifies Gilles Armand, sub-prefect of Mortagne-au-Perche who has been following this issue closely since taking office.

Read also: Echauffour. How five wind turbines turned heaven into hell

In the meantime, during the meeting organized on June 15, 2020 in the town hall of Echauffour at the request of the prefect, the operator was asked to restrain his machines as much as possible, during the night. “We accepted to ease tensions”, recognizes Clément Lainé, Director of Development at Voltalia.

We are committed to ensuring that our park is integrated into the territory as well as possible ”.

Blocking situation

The acoustic study was due to start at the end of June 2020 but the residents where the measures were planned having refused the installation of microphones, nothing has yet been done. “We are in a situation of blockage”, notes the sub-prefect.

“We had asked to have the protocol of measurements because the first study had concluded that there was no emergence [c’est-à-dire la différence entre le bruit ambiant et celui lié aux éoliennes, Ndlr] during the day, it’s not true, ”explains Fabien Ferreri, a scalded cat fearing cold water.

>> read also: At Echauffour, the nightmare linked to wind turbines continues

The protocol reached us one day before the installation of the microphones. We showed it to our acoustics expert who advised us to ask for additional points otherwise, he told us, you will never be able to control what they are doing ”.

The problem is there.

Contested and questionable standards

While the Venathec firm, which is carrying out the acoustic study at Voltalia’s request, relies on the draft standard NF S PR 31-114 “Acoustics – Measurement of noise in the environment with / without wind activity”, residents demand that the analyzes be carried out according to the obligatory standard NF S 31-010, “which we refuse to do, because it goes beyond the regulations applicable to wind turbines”, wrote the president of Voltalia to the prefect of Orne on July 22, 2020.

Recording made on July 21, 2020 at 10:07 p.m. in Fabien Ferreri’s garden in Val Soubry with a sound level meter

Fabien Ferreri deciphers Voltalia’s refusal: “This standard is made to favor wind power operators because it cuts peaks. As such, it does not give a good representation of the nuisances and it does not comply with the public health code. However, what wakes me up at night are the peaks ”.

Legal standards do not take reality into account ”.

Small normative arrangements

Proof of this is the famous emergence which is therefore supposed to calculate the difference between ambient noise and residual noise. This must be at most 5 dB during the day and 3 dB at night, which suggests that if you live in the countryside in a place far from everything, your noise level must be very low, especially at night, which is the case in Val Soubry where Fabien Ferreri lives.

“At night, we are at 25 dB,” he says, sound level meter in support. The maximum allowed in this case should therefore be 28 dB. Nay! Indeed, for wind turbines, a ministerial decree of 2011 raised the ambient sound level threshold to 35 dB, thus derogating from the public health code which sets this threshold at 30 dB.

Very practical these small normative arrangements!

Sleight of hand

As Anne-Catherine Loisier, Senator UDI-UC (Côte-d’Or) noted on December 17, 2015:

These five additional decibels authorized for wind turbines correspond, in acoustics, to the tripling of the sound source. This exemption is all the more detrimental to the health of local residents, as the impulse noises of wind turbines are considered, at equal power, more disturbing than most other noises ”.

However, even with this little sleight of hand, Fabien Ferreri noted sound levels well above the 38 or 40 dB authorized. This is how its sound level meter displayed 46.6 dB on May 12, 2020 at 6:17 a.m. or 41 dB on July 21, 2020 at 12:11 a.m., knowing that in July, the wind turbines were supposed to be clamped.

“There are always solutions”

In this case, is a solution possible? Yes, says Clément Lainé, “there are always solutions” but “as long as we have not launched the studies, we will not be able to improve the situation”, regretting this “deadlock”.

Voltalia’s development director even suggests the possibility, if it turns out to be necessary “to stop the machines at night”, but before getting there, he awaits the result of the acoustic study. He assures us that this will last as long as it takes to have all the data “in order to have a global view of the situation”.

Too close to homes

The sub-prefect is clearly more dubious, not on Voltalia’s desire to seek to solve the problem but rather on the fact that it can be solved. He clearly suggests that the wind turbines were installed too close to homes.

French regulations are not restrictive enough. 500 m is not enough ”.

He also planned to go there himself to see the situation.

In the meantime, he invites residents to accept the acoustic study, recalling that the protocol complies with the legislation. “We, the State, cannot force Voltalia to do otherwise”.

That the law be respected

“The people in charge of Voltalia do what they want. Nobody bends them, ”protests Fabien Ferreri, who recalls that he is not an anti-wind turbine. “I’m just asking that the law be respected. If you create despair, you run into disaster, ”he warns. As Sylvie Laplasse, President of Environmental Protection in Pays de Courtomer, he promises not to let go.

>> Also link: Ecology. The wind farm project in Trémont divides

In Orne, Echauffour will undoubtedly be a textbook case and an example not to be reproduced for a long time. Although nothing is less certain even if Gilles Armand announces that future installations will be the subject of “great vigilance”.

“To go mad or mad”
Annick Bouttier, a resident of Echauffour, testifies to her health problems:
“For a little over a year, I have been subject to many health problems like many other Echauffouriens, in particular vertigo (hospitalization in February 2020, because vertigo more and more violent), tinnitus 24 hours a day, even pains in the ears (I no longer know the silence), my nights are summed up to about 3 hours (fatigue and exhaustion are there, impossible to recover), headaches … well, I am very healthy. gone to a glass of health!
Since March 2020, confinement requires, and teleworking, the problems have intensified, in June 2020 a videonystagmographic examination (VNG) did not detect anything abnormal, and there we start talking to me about my environment, my place of life to come up with a possible “wind syndrome”, some people are supposedly more sensitive than others. To go mad or mad. And still what am I complaining about, I’m not in Val Soubry! “

V.C.

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