Geothermal drilling permits

Last updated more than 5 years ago

The development and operation of geothermal drilling can be harmful to humans and the environment.

Geothermal drilling permits define the development and operating conditions deemed necessary to protect the environment and ensure the safety of workers, the public and the environment in general.

Geothermal drilling permit applications should be submitted to the Environment Agency ( Administration de l'environnement).

Who is concerned

Any natural or legal person, public or private, planning geothermal drilling projects, whether for personal or professional purposes, must apply for a permit.

A new permit is also required if already authorised installations:

  • have not been put into operation within the deadline set on the initial permit;
  • have been subject to a modification or extension;
  • have been inactive for a period of more than 3 consecutive years;
  • have been destroyed or put out of use due to an accident.


Before starting a geothermal drilling project, it is advisable to verify that the plot is situated in an area where geothermal drilling may be authorised.

With this in view, the Water Management Authority has established a detailed mapping which lists the areas where drilling is not permitted and those which are subject to restrictions in terms of drilling depth.

For the area in question, click on the 'Geothermal heat pump' ('Restrictions pompes à chaleur') section in the 'Groundwater' ('Eaux souterraines') menu:

  • in red, the zones where drilling is not permitted;
  • in orange, the zones where drilling is not permitted or is subject to depth restrictions.

It is recommended to verify that all the elements necessary for drawing up the application for a class 1 classified establishment operating permit and the analysis of the need for an environmental impact assessment are available.

How to proceed

Mandatory authorisations

Geothermal drilling is always subject to:

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

Geothermal drilling projects which are subject to a class 1 classified establishment operating permit may also be subject to an environmental impact assessment.

Applicants must therefore provide the Environment Agency with all the elements that are necessary to evaluate the need for such an assessment.

Application processing deadlines

Application processing deadlines are the same as for any water permit application or for a class 1 classified establishment operating permit.

Notification of the decision to authorise or refuse a water permit is sent to the applicant within 3 months following the date on which confirmation that the application is complete was sent.

State aid

Geothermal drilling projects may, depending on the case, be eligible for investment aid regarding environmental protection and rational use of natural resources.

Who to contact

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