l’essentielIn Montech, the wind farm project has turned into a political and legal battle. Éric Lagrange, an opposition member, filed a complaint after discovering that Jacques Moignard, the mayor, signed a work permit in 2021 allowing Enedis to bury cables on a communal plot, against the municipal council’s opinion. The mayor acknowledges « an error » but claims to have acted in good faith based on a written response from the prefecture.
Has Jacques Moignard, the mayor of Montech, the 5th city in Tarn-et-Garonne, committed forgery in a public document? This criminal offense is being accused by Eric Lagrange, an opposition councilor, amidst tensions between supporters and opponents of a wind park project led by Total Energies.
Éric Lagrange, who has been openly opposed to wind turbines since 2018, takes on the role of whistleblower after discovering that the mayor of Montech used his delegated authority to authorize Enedis to bury high-voltage underground cables on a communal plot (registered as ZM42). These works are preparatory to the installation of two 200-meter-high wind turbines. However, a municipal council resolution dated November 28, 2020, had voted against this request for servitude from Garonne-et-Canal Energies, the name of the company that wishes to operate a park consisting of six wind turbines for a period of 20 years, spanning the municipalities of Montech, Finhan, and Montbartier.
« It was a mistake, an oversight on my part. I thought I had the authority to do it. The prefecture, which I had contacted at the time, gave me a very specific but somewhat complicated written response. » And Jacques Moignard waved this letter, dated December 28, 2020 (Editor’s note: at that time, Chantal Mauchet had just taken office at the prefecture of Tarn-et-Garonne).
In December 2020, the mayor received a letter from the prefecture, which put pressure on him.
The prefect reminded the mayor of Montech that concerning the Labouriette road, which belongs to the communal public domain, the proposed works by Garonne et Canal company, as long as they do not exceed the road’s boundaries, fall under the regime of road permission, as set by the Road Traffic Code. Therefore, you are solely responsible for granting or refusing permission (…). As for the exploitation path n.26 (Editor’s note: a rural path acquired by the municipality in 2004 but for private use only as it serves only agricultural plots), you are also responsible for granting road permissions on rural paths.
The state representative stated that « in case of refusal », the mayor « must legally base this refusal on a reason of general interest » and that « in the absence of justification of general interest, the General Code of Territorial Communities provided the possibility for the prefect to substitute for the mayor ». The prefect even added that the deliberation of November 28, 2020 appeared to her as « irregular, as the municipal council is not competent in matters of road permits which fall under the sole competence of the mayor ».
I may face a 2-year prison sentence and a fine of 350,000 euros. I am a politician, not an urban planner. The mayor of Montech assures that I did it in good faith.
Based on these elements, Jacques Moignard concluded that « since it was the State that granted authorization for this wind farm project in 2018, and the State has the final say, it was pointless for the municipality to oppose it. I thought, since I have delegated authority… That’s the mistake I am being accused of. My blunder is that I indeed signed a permit without having the delegation to do so. I risk spending 2 years in jail and paying a fine of 350,000 euros. I am a politician, not an urban planning technician. I did it in good faith, » Jacques Moignard confides.
The mayor of Montech, who is a member of the Socialist Party, has not yet received a summons from the court. « A complaint for forgery in public writing? Oh yes, that’s serious, that’s how we motivate people to go vote in the upcoming elections, » the disappointed elected official exclaimed.
Jacques Moignard is aware that he is being targeted by those who have been filing multiple appeals for the cancellation (1) or, failing that, the slowing down of this wind park project. « Since I am heavily involved, one might think that I am in favor, » he slyly remarks when asked about his position, as it should be remembered that in Montech, a majority of the municipal council voted against this project in a secret ballot.
During the last municipal council meeting on September 29th, the mayor of Montech presented the well-known resolution (which had been rejected three years ago) authorizing Enedis to bury the underground cables along the rural path of Labouriette… and obtained 20 votes in favor out of 29 votes. This was merely a formality as we are aware that the wiring works have already been completed. As for the installation of the six wind turbines, it is scheduled to be done by 2025.