France Adopts Reindustrialization Measures

In Short

The Situation: A new set of measures has been adopted in France which will promote "Green Industry" by streamlining environmental and industrial authorization and supporting low-carbon industrialization projects.

The Result: The law pursues an overall objective aimed at accelerating the reindustrialization of territories, which results in particular into (i) the creation of 50 new turnkey industrial sites, (ii) a drastic reduction of the duration of the permitting procedures related to industrial sites, and (iii) an exceptional simplified procedure for projects of major national interest.

Looking Ahead: Subject to their effective implementation, these measures should encourage and accelerate the development of industrial projects in France. The first effects of these measures should soon be visible according to the government, with the first turnkey industrial sites due to be supported in January 2024.

The "Green Industry" law, which came into force on October 23, 2023, aims to accelerate the reindustrialization of regions, develop low-carbon industries, and make existing industries greener. Some of the measures provided for in the law are specifically intended to encourage reindustrialization.

Reduction of the Duration of the Permitting Procedures Related to Industrial Sites

The aim of the law is to reduce the time taken to issue environmental and other administrative authorizations by half—from the current 17 months to nine months. The local environmental authority's investigation, the public consultation and the environmental authorization proceeding will be carried out in parallel. 

Prior to the adoption of this law, environmental authorization applications were processed in three phases: (i) an examination phase, (ii) a public consultation phase, and (iii) a decision phase. While the theoretical duration set by the Environmental Code for granting an environmental authorization (which, for some years now, includes the authorization   for exploitation) was nine months, in practice, the average time taken was 17 months, due to suspensions on requests for additional information and time between phases.

From now on, the public will be consulted from the start of the examination phase, and for a period of three months instead of one. This parallelization reduces the theoretical consultation period from nine months to five months and three weeks. This should reduce the time required to review applications for environmental authorizations by around three months.

For this measure to be effective, and for the time frame to be effectively reduced to nine months, it will have to be accompanied by a reduction in delays during the procedure.

This new procedure will apply to applications for environmental authorizations submitted from a date to be set by decree, and at the latest one year after promulgation of the law.

The law also provides for the possibility of organizing a global public debate or a global preliminary consultation when several development projects with a common vocation are envisaged on the same delimited and homogeneous territory over the next eight years.

Exceptional Simplified Procedure for Projects of Major National Interest

The law creates an exceptional simplified procedure for industrial projects of major national interest, defined by the law as "an industrial project which, in view of its purpose and scope, particularly in terms of investment and employment, is of particular importance for the ecological transition or national sovereignty." 

This simplification is implemented through the transfer of competence for issuing building permits for these sites from the local authorities to the State. Nonetheless, mayors or presidents of inter-communal authorities will be required to give their approval prior to the procedure in order to make urban planning documents compatible.

In addition to this modification, the simplified procedure will result in faster compatibility procedures of urban planning documents, accelerated electricity connection procedures, and the possibility of recognizing an imperative reason of major public interest.

This derogation procedure will apply to large-scale projects, which will be identified by decree.

50 Turnkey Industrial Sites "France 2030"

At the same time, the French government is relaunching the "Territoire d'Industrie" program, with the creation of 50 new turnkey industrial sites. Turnkey sites enable industrial and logistics activities to be developed in a competitive time frame, thanks to the anticipation of certain administrative procedures relating to town planning, environment, and preventive archaeology. 

The French government will provide financial support for rehabilitation projects through the Banque des Territoires, which will commit €200 million per year over five years, i.e. a total of €1 billion. According to the schedule announced by the government, the first wave of site selection should take place in December 2023, and the first selected sites should start receiving support in January 2024.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. The "Green Industry" law aims to accelerate the reindustrialization of French territories.
  2. This should result in the reduction by half of the duration of the permitting procedures related to industrial sites. A new simplified procedure for projects of major national interest is created.
  3. 50 new turnkey industrial sites will be made available to investors, the first ones to be identified by the end of 2023.
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