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Environmental organizations raise objection against Gondosolar

The environmental organizations Pro Natura Valais and Mountain Wilderness have lodged an objection to the photovoltaic project near Gondo VS. The environmental impact report for the planned Gondosolar project has significant gaps, criticizes Pro Natura Valais.

This makes it impossible to examine the adverse effects and to weigh up the interests sufficiently. In particular, studies on amphibians, reptiles, bats and butterflies were lacking, the association complained in a press release on Tuesday.

The data on certain bird species such as the black grouse is also still very sparse. Pro Natura Valais is calling for these studies to be carried out before a permit is issued.

The association also criticizes the lack of overarching overall planning in the canton of Valais to select the most suitable locations for large-scale photovoltaic systems. There has also been no round table so far, although one was announced in October 2023 for the first quarter of 2024.

This shortcoming is exemplified by the present project. "A plant is to be built at a random location in the middle of untouched nature without checking whether there are other locations that would involve less impact on nature and the landscape and could be implemented more cheaply," writes Pro Natura Valais.

The Alpine conservation organization Mountain Wilderness has voiced the same criticism. The solar project threatens an infrastructure-free alp. The organization demands that "the waste of electricity is finally stopped and solar plants are built in more suitable locations."

Building permit expected in mid-2024

The promoters of the project submitted the building permit application with the environmental impact assessment to the cantonal building commission last December. It was the first of the numerous alpine solar park projects in Valais to take this step.

The project sponsors announced at the time that they hoped to obtain planning permission by mid-2024. The objection could now lead to a delay.

The plant with around 2,200 solar trees is to be built above Gondo at an altitude of over 2,000 meters on an area of 17.4 hectares. According to the project sponsors, it will produce an average of around 22.1 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year.

©Keystone/SDA

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