On the morning of 13 June, participants had the opportunity to visit two local initiatives implemented by the town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, with the aim of achieving a sustainable and participative energy transition: the BIOMMASSE heating plant and the Albien borehole. Both visits were led by the deputy mayor responsible for the town’s economic activities and the site’s technical managers. The town wanted to develop the use of renewable heat to reduce its ecological footprint and control its costs. To this end, it has decided to build a biomass heating plant and, at the same time, has extended its original district heating network to serve the outskirts of the city and the eco-neighbourhoods. The aim of this investment is to cover 60% of the heating and domestic hot water needs of the equivalent of 4,000 homes. This solution will enable the local authority to keep users’ energy bills under control at a time of high volatility in the price of fossil fuels. It also allows us to take account of changes in environmental regulations and to be fully involved in the energy and ecological transition. The project received €600,000 in financial support from the European Union. Drilling in the Albien offers two major advantages: thermal recovery of the water and securing a pure water resource for the town. At a depth of 630 metres, this borehole will capture water at 28°C, which will be sent to an exchanger to extract the heat. Thanks to this new source of geothermal energy, the proportion of renewable energy in the extended network will rise from 50% to almost 80%.
For lunch, the residents travelled by tram to the Bel-Air eco-neighbourhood, where they were welcomed by the deputy mayor responsible for inclusion and the city of tomorrow, as well as by local residents. Over lunch, they presented the initiatives implemented to make the district a real opportunity for its residents, in line with the objective of inclusion that all initiatives claiming to be part of the Green Pact must take into account. For several years now, residents have been involved in the following projects: social innovation, the living environment, ecology and the environment, mobility, and awareness-raising workshops for adults and children. It’s an innovative experiment launched around social development and solidarity through housing and public space.
After lunch, the delegations travelled to a rural area near the town of Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole, to the Ferme de Gally site. A market garden since 1746, Fermes de Gally has a special relationship with nature. Farmers here grow produce and invent services that enable towns and their residents to preserve a precious link with the benefits of a natural environment: giving people a taste for good things and beautiful things, revealing places that have been damaged or fallen into disrepute, designing greener urbanisation, rediscovering the joy and pleasure of growing, picking and cooking. For their customers – whether individuals or businesses – Les Fermes de Gally represents an alternative to the common thinking that pits town against country. An alternative, too, to the solutions that make nature seem like itself when it takes over the city.
It’s worth pointing out that all the journeys made on the day were thanks to the T13 tramway, a new line which, from 2022, will link the towns of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole, serving rural areas that were previously isolated and poorly served by the public transport network.
On 14 June, participants in the meeting went to the Maison de l’Europe des Yvelines – Centre Europe Direct in the morning to attend several presentations. The aim of these presentations was to show the various initiatives implemented by the centre and the town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as part of the implementation of the European Green Pact in general and the GIRA project in particular. We began with an “ice-breaking game” on the theme of the Green Pact for Europe, followed by presentations on the following subjects: the development of the Achères plain, the decarbonisation of the town and the “O carbone” programme.
After lunch, we visited the “Huilerie de la plaine” farm: 150 hectares on which are produced cereals and oilseeds, in a sustainable manner. The farmer has brought together some thirty producers to offer a complete range of seeds and dried vegetables. It buys and promotes local production. Their values are: environmentally friendly cultivation methods (organic farming, soil conservation agriculture, precision farming), fair remuneration for the producer and total traceability.
On the evening of 14 June, the participants from the 6 delegations were received at Saint-Germain-en-Laye town hall by the town councillor responsible for international relations.
Finally, the morning of 15 June was devoted to evaluating the meeting, holding a meeting of the heads of each delegation and, finally, looking to the future: new bids, with which partners and on what themes. Themes such as promoting rural areas through traditional local cultures and gastronomic heritage, and resilience in the face of climate change were raised.
See here our full video coverage of the 6th transnational project meeting in France – https://youtu.be/bCVOMsx8iwI?feature=shared