The German renewable energy company, Q Energy, is planning a solar PV plant (Project Name: Bory) in the Saint-Trinit commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, southeastern France. The project would consist of 52,156 solar panels with a total power of 28.7 MWp, as well as 2 delivery stations. According to company data, the project could supply the equivalent of the consumption of 21 000 people and would take 28.1 hectares .
In July and August 2022, with the agreement of the town council, the company organized a prior consultation process to “maintain a high level of exchange with those directly affected by the project: residents and their elected representatives” . Prior consultation constitutes a mode of public participation before the filing of an application for authorization. At the same time, the company seemed to take development as granted, claiming that: “While the development of photovoltaic energy is now a necessity in order to carry out an ambitious and local energy transition, we are committed to developing our projects by taking into account the challenges of the territory and are listening to your observations” . Before the preliminary consultation period started, anyone interested in the project could consult it on the company’s website, or at the Saint-Trinit town hall, where the consultation file was available. The public could also send their comments and proposals to Q Energy France by e-mail, as well as write them in a register held at the town hall on two days for a total of 6 hours (10 am – 1 pm) . In the final report on the prior consultation, the company noted that the citizens were mainly concerned with the project’s impact on fauna and flora, as well as on community life: local tourism, visibility of the park by local residents, negative impact on walks and hikes, etc. Approximately 40 participants attended the physical meetings, and 47 written contributions were collected .
While consultation was taking place, part of the citizenry launched a petition to stop the project . The petition insisted on the natural value of the area, describing in detail the species of flora and fauna that could be affected, and mentioning the cutting down of about 56,000 trees if the project was implemented (the company had the obligation to compensate, i.e. to replant these trees; if possible, locally). Local project opponents also alerted the association Les Amis de la Montagne de la Lure  which encouraged its readership to participate in the public consultation. In an article published on the association’s webpage, it was noticed that the project proposal followed many other industrial projects of operators ready to raze forests in different local areas, which contributed to a scattering of these industrial structures over natural areas .
Project news was taken up several months later, in January 2023, by France Bleu, a network of local and regional radio stations in France. France Bleu emphasized the residents’ opposition to the project and claimed that 100 out of 120 residents were opposing it . It reported the opinions of some residents who stressed the contradiction between the need for forests to slow down global warming and the company’s project to cut down trees to make room for the plant. The article also reported the opinion of citizens who wanted to “give their land meaning” and were willing to lease it for renewable energy projects. The land would be leased for 30 years. Opponents mentioned the figure of 5,000 euros per hectare per year, but the information was not confirmed either by Q Energy or by landowners. Colette Riquier, a Saint-Trinit resident, stated the community is not against PV but would rather see panels installed on top of buildings first, before razing the forest. However, Q Energy replied that according to existing studies, the available buildings would not make it possible to catch up with France's great delay. According to the company, only large power plants could be capable of that. Two further points were raised by another resident (Séverine Charlon, at the origin of the petition): 1) a conflict of interest, due to the fact that two local elected officials from Saint-Trinit were directly involved in leasing their lands; 2) the fact that the designated area is a protected natural site, and the local urban plan would need to be changed to allow for the construction .
The latest news article, from 14 January 2023, referred to the local history of mobilizations, mentioning that years earlier, neither the project of a water treatment station nor a second project for a solar park for the benefit of the activity of the Rustrel low-noise laboratory, could be implemented . Interestingly, the article mentions that on the borders of the Vaucluse region, solar parks are legion, due to the geographical location far from the mountain range which makes exposure optimal, and low population density.