The strength of opposition to new wind farms in France needs to be reassessed in the light of a recent survey, the Syndicate for Renewable Energies (SER) claims. The survey was carried out on behalf of one of SER's members, Siif Energies, a division of national utility EDF, and draws on a sample of 400 people living in and around the community of Bouin. Siif hopes to build a wind farm of eight turbines at Bouin. The object of the survey was to get a measure of local opinion about the project. The results show only marginal opposition, despite a campaign by opponents who widely reported that people were against it. The survey found that 100% of the population of Bouin has heard of the project and that 67% of them can spontaneously quote the number of turbines to be erected. A total of 89% say they are in favour of the wind farm with only 3% against it. Some 68% agree with the statement that "the wind turbines will alter the landscape but we'll get used to it" and 25% say the turbines will positively add to the countryside. A majority believe the project will bring economic benefits to Bouin and attract tourists. Nine out of ten respondents believe wind energy is desirable and do not agree with the statement that "developers should look elsewhere for sites." France has a vociferous opposition to wind farms "spreading" across the countryside, but no one is yet sure whether it is a negligible minority of opinionated individuals or whether it is winning broad-based support. For SER, the Bouin survey suggests the opposition is not making any converts: "This case illustrates the paradox that French wind power developers find themselves in. While the great majority of people living near wind farms, either planned or functioning, are informed and in favour of this form of energy production the opposition, with little effect, is busy throwing up legal and administrative obstacles."
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol