Environnement, Risques & Santé


A high voltage power line: the route with the least environmental and health impact Volume 16, issue 3, May-June 2017


  • Figure 1

  • Figure 2
1 Ingénieur, directeur de projet chez Réseau transport d’électricité (RTE)
62, rue Louis Delos
59700 Marcq-en-Baroeul
2 Géographe, consultante, présidente de C&S Conseils
31, rue de Trévise
75009 Paris
* Tirés à part

The upgrade to double-circuitof the 400-kV power line between Avelin and Gavrelle (Northern France) was first set in motion to improve security and to adapt the network to renewable energy sources or energy transition. Since 2011, it has been the object of an unprecedented consultation process, in terms of duration as well as magnitude. From 2012 to 2015, after much discussion, the contracting authority, Réseau Transport d’Electricité (RTE), determined the line with the least consequential environmental and health effects and presented it to the 2016 spring public inquiry.

Information and communication requirements were adapted at each stage of the project, to take local concerns into account. Health concerns about the magnetic fields and noise generated by the electric lines were expressed from the very beginning of the consultation and were therefore treated with special care, through knowledge-sharing, debate and specific studies.

A health committee, comprising volunteers from various backgrounds, was entrusted with informing the general public and providing suggestions to RTE and the health authorities, through in-depth discussions about health issues. The committee also asked RTE to conduct studies and measure electromagnetic fields to support an informed decision.

As a result, the contracting authority defined the route of the electric line based primarily on the distance between houses and the line. The committee also obtained further commitments from RTE to minimize the magnetic fields emitted by the line with a new type of pylon and to monitor the effects on the people living along the line over time.

During the course of this consultation process, shared knowledge together with a continuous dialogue on local health concerns aided the search for the route with the least consequential environmental and health impact.