Dialogue Commission on Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport reports: project delayed but confirmed
Date added: April 10, 2013
The dialogue commission looking into the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project at Nantes has produced its report. There were also two reports on the impact on water and wetland and impact on local agriculture. The commission has said that substantial adjustments are needed to the original draft of new airport designed to replace the existing Nantes Atlantique airport. This means there is an indefinite postponement. It had been planned to open in 2017. The dialogue commission has had to decide on the usefulness of the project , and also on changes and improvements needed to the project, to which is strongly opposed locally – and also by many across France. There now needs to be a new assessment of redevelopment costs of the existing Nantes Atlantique airport, and whether it could be adapted to take larger planes. Also the impact of a new airport on other airports nearby. The commission has questionned the way in which wetland would be dealt with, and the impact of loss of farms and farmland. Opponents now believe their concerns and opposition has been vindicated, but they will continue to occupy the land and fight the plans.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: project delayed but confirmed
By Rémi Barroux
[Imperfect translation into English below. Original French at link ]
The Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, about fifteen kilometers from Nantes, is not questioned. But the government of Jean-Marc Ayrault will have to take the time on it. Three reports delivered on Tuesday, 9 April, to the government and the prefect of the region Pays de la Loire , indeed require substantial adjustments to the original draft of new runway designed to replace the existing Nantes Atlantique airport. This is an old project that has been going on for more than forty years and it had been planned that its first flights would take off from Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in late 2017.
The dialogue commission, chaired by Claude Chereau, president of the Audit Board of Agriculture of the nation, was implemented in late November by the Prime Minister, former Mayor of Nantes and ardent advocate of the project, had to decide not only on the usefulness of the project and its potential challenge, but the changes and improvements made to the project, which is strongly objected to on the ground by the occupants of the ZAD, the holding zone by farmers and allies of the (Socialist Party) PS government, and the Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (Greens).
NEW ASSESSMENT OF TRAFFIC
In fact, the Commission proposes to reopen the case from several angles. With regard to the increase in air traffic, that would justify the transfer of the existing airport to Notre Dame des Landes, this requires a new assessment of redevelopment costs of the existing Nantes Atlantique airport, a claim that has been brought by environmentalist opponents and politicians in the region. The question of the use of the current runway by Airbus and thus maintaining activity there remains unanswered and should be decided, say three members of the commission.
Information on the effect of a future Airport West Grand (AGO) – the proposed new airport, for which the concession was awarded to Vinci Airports , on the management of airports in Nantes-Atlantique, Saint-Nazaire nearby or even in Rennes, is also being requested.
The economic justifications, the need to connect to Nantes to major European cities, the development of transport across the two regions, Pays-de-la-Loire and Brittany, are also being discussed by the rapporteurs.
These are questions that the government says will respond to. The current project must be “optimized on the basis of recommendations made by the committees” , in the words of a statement from Jean-Marc Ayrault, on Tuesday, which reaffirmed “its commitment to continue the process of this project “ .
The other two committees – the scientific experts to assess “the compensation method for impacts on Wetlands” , and the group in charge of “the expertise of the impact on agriculture” set up by Minister Stéphane Le Foll and chaired respectively by Ghislain Marcily, Academy of Sciences , and Dominique Pelissie engineer of Ponts-et-Roads – have also made their proposals. They have also, in these more technical fields, criticized the record of the future airport.
Principal, coming from scientific experts, questioned the validity of the calculation of compensation for wetlands – some 98% of the area of the future airport – as it was presented by the prefecture. Instead of replacing a hectare of wetland by two hectares, said method of “clearing surface” , it was proposed to study the services rendered in terms of biodiversity, botany, hydrology, etc.. in a given area and seek to replace them with an area that could be more reduced.
This method called “functional compensation” , experimental over a large area, has certainly not been condemned by the experts. But they questioned the criteria, calculation methods and have pointed to the risk of failure. The regional prefect, Christian Lavernée, must take an order shortly on the “Water Act” which takes into account these recommendations. It will be immediately challenged by opponents by recourse to the European Commission.
Regarding farmers, the commission is dedicated to them, warned of the consequences of the construction of AGO airport on agriculture, with the disappearance of farms. A kind of double jeopardy since the loss of agricultural land according to the authors of the report, of “the impact of environmental compensation on Agriculture” . On this again, they argue, it is necessary to reduce the impact of the airport project.
These three reports should serve as the basis for new proposals. The beginning of the construction itself is not considered for many months. Until the autumn, at the very least, what, a few months before the municipal elections, should not please a Socialist Party challenged by the news and unwilling, perhaps, to be angry with his environmentalist allies.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes for EELV, the project is doomed, not for local officials
The Monde.fr with AFP
MEP Yannick Jadot EELV request to abandon the project of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, after delivering three reports to the government.
In view of the three reports issued on Tuesday, 9 April to the Minister of Transport ,“as the implementation of all the recommendations made in these reports is mission impossible and indefinitely postponed the project” of the airport at Notre Dame-des-Landes, the party Europe Ecologie-Les Verts ( EELV ) wrote in a statement . The Green Party, long opposed to the project, believes that “all questions raised over the years by opponents are now reinforced and legitimized”
Although the dialogue commission considers the project “justified” , EELV believes that “its observations, recommendations and conclusions show that the above project is as fragile as incorrectly formatted.” The Green Party underlines that “except escaping the law on Water and Community, the project can not be allowed in the current state “ .
MEP ecologist Yannick Jadot (above) goes even further, calling for the abandonment of the project in an interview with AFP. “At a minimum, the entire project should be reassessed following official procedures, a survey and a public debate “ .
NGOS CALL FOR FURTHER STUDY
For their part, local opponents are far from shouting victory. “We will continue to stay on the land as they have from the beginning to prevent it being reversed”, says Cyril Bouligand representing farmers opposed to the project, before adding: “As long as the project is not repealed, we will remain there” .
“What was said today by the commission [dialogue] is precisely that the struggle we are carrying out here is legitimate” , says former adviser General EELV Denigot Gilles , who had took part in the hunger strike against the project in April 2012.
Several non-governmental organizations have also asked the government for“further study” because of the importance of the shortcomings identified by the three reports. The Fondation Nicolas Hulot calls “the immediate cessation of work”, while France Nature Environnement (FNE) notes that this type of project is usually “frozen as reserves are not lifted” . WFF for its part considers that the studies produced to date “can not allow global environmental issues related to the project” .
However, several key players in favour of the project were satisfied. “The value of this airport is now proved, proven, demonstrated and this demonstration has been made by listening to all parties, we are very happy” said the socialist president of the General Council of Loire-Atlantique Philippe Grosvalet. “There are a number of recommendations are have been made which do not call into question the whole rationale and usefulness of this transfer” , said the President ,also socialist, of the Pays de la Loire region, Jacques Auxiette. For Mr. Auxiette to the airport, initially scheduled for 2017, will be completed “2017-2018” .
Critical week for the “Ayraultport” at Nantes – with report by dialogue commission
April 7, 2013 The dialogue commission looking into the proposed new Nantes airport is due to give its report on Tuesday 9th April, to Jean-Marc Ayrault – the Prime Minister and ex-Mayor of Nantes. There have been about a hundred evidence sessions to the commission over the past 4 months. The commission’s chairman remains of the opinion that an airport is needed in due course, though there are some doubts about some or the arguments in favour of it. Opponents know of the apparent bias, but hope that at the least, the recommendations will be for more studies, for example on future air traffic. Two other reports are expected in the next few days. One is on the validity of the method of compensation for environmental damage proposed by the developer of the airport, Vinci. The other is to analyse its agricultural impact. On 15th April the French government will meet the EU about breaches of EU directives on water and environmental assessment. Click here to view full story…
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: Court authorizes the expulsion of some opponents from Bellevue farm
March 28, 2013 At Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the site of the proposed new airport for Nantes, the opposition goes on. Each week more people from across France come to take turns in occupying the proposed airport site, living in mud and discomfort in shacks. Bellevue farm had been empty, but has been reoccupied and the protesters have worked hard to set up a farm there, with animals and real farm work. They are determined to stay. The court in Saint-Nazaire has ruled that the people on the farm must leave now. However, a report from a commission of dialogue is awaited next month, so it is not likely the farm occupants will actually be evicted before then. After the judgment, nearly 150 opponents gathered at Bellevue farm to show their determination. “We expected this decision. We’ve been here two months and we’re staying.” Work on the airport had been expected to start before now. The legal processes are causing long delays for the airport company. Click here to view full story…
WWF France says Nantes airport at NDDL should not proceed without many more environmental studies
March 25, 2013 After several months of study of the various arguments about a new “projet d’aéroport du Grand Ouest”airport plan for Nantes at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, WWF France has now made public its position. They say the project should not go ahead without a lot of further studies being done. They are urging the French government to implement a number of additional studies to quantify the actual project impacts on ecosystems and people. Studies already show the importance of the biodiversity of the site but still contain many gaps (flora, birds, insects, reptiles …). Further studies are also needed on the airport’s wider environmental impacts. WWF also considers that flood risk has been underestimated and more work is needed to investigate this. There are also important issues about hydrological impacts on drainage, water supply, and catchment areas on which work is needed as the airport may have negative impacts. Natural areas provide valuable “ecosystem services” at no cost, and these should not be put at risk, just for an airport. Click here to view full story…
Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport decision delayed by at least several months
March 10, 2013 It is now certain that the construction of the new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes – if it starts at all – will at least several months delayed. It should have started this spring. A Committee on dialogue has been set up, and has been taking evidence from proponents and opponents of the airport scheme. The Chairman of the commission is careful not to take sides, but has said that after going on for so many years since first proposed, the arguments for the airport have changed and other arguments now have greater priority. More information is needed on the alleged economic and employment benefit of the scheme, and on the transport network. He says.”Our report will present the advantages and disadvantages of the new airport, and the government will decide.” A prominent member of the National Assembly said it is necessary to continue dialogue but before starting any construction work a national plan of airport infrastructure.should be developed. Click here to view full story…
Nantes: Opponents apply to European Commission to look into breaches of EU law by French government
February 22, 2013 The opponents of a new airport at Notre Dame des Landes, near Nantes, have applied to the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament on breaches of European law, by the airport project. They have submitted petitions to the European Parliament asking them to get the French government to look possible infringements of Community law. Opponents say there has been non-compliance with the Directive on the assessment of environmental, the water framework directive, and the directive says on “Birds” and “Habitats.” Brussels confirmed it has requested information from the French government. Sandrine Bélier, a Green member of the European Parliament) said the Commission shared their analysis of a potential breach of Community law and they have launched a pre-litigation procedure called “EU Pilot” Sandrine said there is still time for legal, economic and environmental sense to prevail and for the repeal of a costly and mammoth project, which is contrary to the law. Click here to view full story…
Nantes airport opponents plan 25 km human chain around proposed airport site on 11th May
February 11, 2013 The opponents of the planned replacement airport for Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes are planning to make a massive 25km long human chain, on 11th May at 2pm. The chain will surround the ZAD (what they call the Zone á Dèfendre) where the airport is planned, and which the opponents have fought hard to occupy over the past 6 months. It will go along local roads and lanes. The organisers hope to get at least 40,000 people and perhaps 80,000. The chain will demonstrate the extent of the opposition to this new airport, which is regarded as unnecessary, hugely damaging to the environment and local farming, a white elephant and economically unjustifiable. Planning has been going on for several months already. Click here to view full story…
Nantes: Legal victory for opponents in Notre-Dame-des-Landes – delay in expropriations of perhaps two and a half years
February 6, 2013 The Supreme Court in France has ruled that no expulsions will be made at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (for the planned new airport at Nantes). Lawyers say the delay could be for at least two and a half years. The Court made its judgement on January 29, and this means is put on hold until the outcome of the other legal remedies. There are at least 5 legal appeals to be decided. The company, Vinci, that plans to build the airport, will not be able to move the protesters – for a long time. The expropriate orders cannot be valid until the administrative judge confirms the legality of previous judgements listing the plots of land to expropriate people from. The company AGO (Airports Great-West), wanted the immediate rejection of the appeal, without waiting for the completion of administrative remedies. Meanwhile, farmers and their animals have re-occupied Bellevue farm, which had been cleared earlier. Click here to view full story…
Commission to start dialogue on the future Nantes airport – but expects it will be difficult
December 20, 2012 After a week of sometimes violent clashes between opponents and police on the site of the future airport, near Nantes, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced on November 24 the creation of a commission, which will begin its hearings this Friday in Nantes. The hearings will continue till March 2013, and its report will take the form of proposals to the Prime Minister that will be made public. The commission will be chaired by Claude Chéreau – an experienced negotiator. ACIPA, the main opponents, have not yet agreed to take part, but can decide to do so over the next few months. They need as a prerequisite for their cooperation with the commission in early 2013 “the withdrawal of police forces from the area,” they need them to “stop evictions and destruction” and especially they want “a written confirmation that it is indeed possible to without restriction tackle substantive issues of the case.” The group that plans to build the airport, Airports Great West (AGO), a subsidiary of Vinci, say the talks cannot question the airport project. Click here to view full story…