Décision de justice

French Guiana: work on the future power station in Le Larivot can resume

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The Conseil d’État today cancelled the suspension of the environmental authorization for the future power station in Le Larivot decided by the urgent applications judge at the Administrative Tribunal in French Guiana. In practice, there is no requirement in legislation to take the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030, as laid down in the French Energy Code, into account for this type of authorization.

On 22 October 2020, the local prefect issued an environmental authorization for the development of a power station in the town of Matoury in French Guiana. The associations Guyane Nature Environnement and France Nature Environnement referred the case to the urgent applications judge at the country’s Administrative Tribunal, who suspended the authorization1 as a matter of urgency . The judge held that there was a serious doubt over its legality, first in light of the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions laid down in law (-40% between 1990 and 2030)2, and secondly, with regard to the provisions of the French Urban Development Code on limiting the extent of urban development in coastal areas.

The Minister for the Ecological Transition and the company that was granted the environmental authorization, EDF Production Électrique Insulaire, a subsidiary of the energy company for territories not connected to the continent’s mainland grid, applied to the Conseil d’État to cancel the suspension of works on the future power station.

The Conseil d’État upheld the applications,

observing that there were no grounds for linking the environmental authorization for the future power station in Le Larivot directly to Article L. 100-4 of the French Energy Code, which fixes a target for the national energy policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030. In practice, there is no connection in legislation between the national energy policy target and individual decisions handed down in relation to the French Environment Code, such as the one at issue. These targets must, however, be taken into account in accordance with the French Energy Code for authorization to operate a power station. This is only the case for an authorization issued in relation to the French Environment Code if it also constitutes an authorization to operate in respect of the French Energy Code, as provided for in Article L. 181-3 of the former. This was not the situation for the authorization at issue.

Moreover, the Conseil d’État notes that the provisions on limiting the extent of urban development in coastal areas are not applicable to an environmental authorization, pursuant to the principle of independence of legislation, insofar as the purpose of the authorization is not to permit the construction of one or more facilities.

Decision nos 455465, 456314, 455497 and 455500 of 10 February 2022

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1 Decisions no. 21000957 of 27 July 2021 and no. 2101084 of 7 September 2021

2 Article L. 100-4 of the French Energy Code