PACA Region reaffirms commitment to ITER
Six years ago, as negotiations to choose a site for ITER were ongoing, the local governments of the PACA region, where Cadarache is located, offered to participate in the funding of the project.
A large part of money pledged by the PACA Region has already been used to build the International School in Manosque.
All together, the six neighbouring départements, the Greater Aix Council and the PACA Regional Council agreed to pledge EUR 467 million to ITER. A large part of this budget has already been used to build the International School in Manosque, the ITER Itinerary and also to fund various ITER-related development projects in the Durance Valley.
Having committed EUR 152 million, the PACA Regional Council is one of the two major local contributors to the ITER Project. Of that sum, about half has yet to be spent.
When the last regional elections were held in 2004, the victorious Socialist/Green alliance devised the so-called "Alter-ITER Agreement": For each euro spent by the Regional Council on ITER — with the exception of the money allocated to the International School —, one euro would be spent on an alternative energy project.
As regional elections are being held to renew the Council, Europe-Écologie—a new environmentalist movement that includes the Greens—has raised the question of regional participation in the funding of ITER. It has acknowledged, however, that since the money was pledged there is no turning back: it will go to ITER as originally intended.
As compensation, Europe-Écologie has obtained from its Socialist allies an upgraded "Alter-ITER" type agreement. For each "ITER euro," two euros will now go to alternative energy projects.
Despite the large headlines in the local press recently and outcry from several sides, not a thing will change for ITER: the sums allocated by the Regional Council are not affected by the Socialist/ Europe-Écologie alliance.
As Michel Vauzelle, the current President of the PACA Regional Council, declared as he was handing out leaflets on Thursday 18 March at the entrance of CEA-Cadarache: "Our agreement is perfectly clear. The Regional Council will stick to its initial commitment."
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