Public referendum on Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport likely to be in June, and only for Loire-Atlantique département
Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France, confirmed this week that the referendum on whether the new Nantes airport should go ahead, will only for the voters in the département of Loire-Atlantique. It would also be before the summer, in June. Two key issues about the referendum have been key: the date and the area covered. Keeping it only to Loire-Atlantique suits the government, backing the new airport plan, as it is believed there is more support for the airport there. One poll showed 51% support for the plan, 39% against and 10% undecided. Another poll showed 58% opposition across France as a whole. Opponents of the plan, and others involved, believe areas other than just Loire-Atlantique should be consulted, as they would be affected by environmental, economic and social impacts of the possible airport. The leaders of neighbouring departments such as Mayenne, Morbihan and the Maine-et-Loire have recently criticised the prospect of the consultation’s scope being limited to only the Loire-Atlantique. The Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royal, defended the idea of the area being extended to the whole of the region Pays de la Loire. The government wants the poll early, so building work and evictions from the ZAD can be started by October. Work needs to start by then as there is a “declaration of public utility” lasting till October. It is likely that the referendum will be either on Sunday 19th or Sunday 26th June.
NDDL: The text of the order for the consultation is ready
Arnaud Gosse, environmental law specialist, is very critical of the text which should help to organize the consultation abpit Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
Manuel Valls wants to consult, in June, the inhabitants of Loire-Atlantique, in order to “legitimize” the disputed airport project at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. No text for such a consultation, an order, is yet being prepared. On Thursday, March 24 it will be submitted, for opinion, to the National Council of the ecological transition.
The text received by board members (1) was analyzed by Arnaud Gosse, lawyer specializing in environmental law. This doctor of law, lecturer at the University of Paris I published its findings on the Mediapart website.
“No guarantee on information”
According to counsel, the text “disregards” an article in the Macron law of August 2015 that authorized the state to organize a local consultation for future projects, not for projects that are already past. It reduces the territorial area (here the Loire-Atlantique) “without taking account of the area to consider for the project’s effects on the environment” . The Macron law predicted the defined this scope according to the environmental impact.
Here we treat as the public inquiry area. The project, the lawyer notes again, says nothing about the consequences of the consultation, particularly in the case of negative response from the voters. “In this case, what will become of the permits issued and signed contracts?”
And then, the point that is sure to be controversial, the project “carries no guarantee regarding the information to be sent to voters”. Contrary to what provided the text of the Macron law, it will not make an appeal to the National Commission for public debate to act as a guarantor. The information panel will report to a commission set up by the state. “The draft order provides no guidance on the appointment of its members, on their working conditions, on declarations of conflicts of interest, on their means, on the type of information to be circulated, on the processing of claims, etc. ”
“A weapon against future projects”
Expanding the debate, the lawyer sounds the alarm. The new procedure will be organized for other projects, following the issue of an administrative authorization. Companies, project developers and authorities would do well to worry, noted the lawyer, pointing out a paradox. “Designed to get a project passed, this new procedure could become a weapon against future projects.” It compromises, says the lawyer, the legal security of industrial and infrastructure projects.
According to Arnaud Gosse, “whether one is for or against the airport project, no one can be satisfied with the creation of a procedure so contrary to the principles and rules of environmental law.”
Beyond the legal analysis, “one can question the political value of such proceedings”, said the lawyer. “Whatever the outcome, it will obviously not be shared from the moment it has been obtained, in such conditions”.
(1) Consisting of fifty members, community representatives are found, employers’ unions and employees, parliament, consumer organizations and representatives of eight NGOs in the environment sector.
Original in French below:
NDDL. Le texte de l’ordonnance de la consultation est prêt
20.3.2016 (Ouest France)
Arnaud Gossement, spécialiste du droit de l’environnement est très critique par rapport au texte qui devrait permettre d’organiser la consultation Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
Manuel Valls veut consulter, en juin, les habitants de Loire-Atlantique, afin de « légitimer » le projet contesté d’aéroport à Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Aucun texte ne permettant aujourd’hui une telle consultation, une ordonnance est en préparation. Jeudi 24 mars elle sera soumise, pour avis, aux membres du Conseil national de la transition écologique.
Le texte reçu par les membres du conseil (1) a été analysé par Arnaud Gossement, avocat spécialisé en droit de l’environnement. Ce docteur en droit, enseignant à l’université de Paris I a publié ses conclusions sur le site Mediapart.
« Pas de garantie relative à l’information »
Selon l’avocat, le texte « méconnaît » un article de la loi Macron d’août 2015 qui autorisait l’État à organiser une consultation locale pour les projets à venir, et non pour les projets déjà passés. Il réduit l’aire territoriale (ici la Loire-Atlantique) « sans tenir compte de l’aire à prendre en compte pour les effets du projet sur l’environnement ». La loi Macron prévoyait de définir ce périmètre en fonction de l’incidence environnementale. Ici on se cale sur l’aire de l’enquête publique. Le projet, note encore le juriste, ne dit rien sur les suites de la consultation, en particulier en cas de réponse négative des électeurs. « Dans ce cas, qu’adviendra-t-il des autorisations délivrées et des contrats signés ? »
Et puis, point qui ne manquera pas de faire polémique, le projet « ne comporte pas de garantie relative à l’information qui sera adressée aux électeurs ». Contrairement à ce que prévoyait le texte de la loi Macron, il ne sera pas fait appel à la commission nationale du débat public pour jouer un rôle de garant. Le volet information relèvera d’une commission mise en place par l’État. « Le projet d’ordonnance ne donne aucune indication sur la désignation de ses membres, sur leurs conditions de travail, sur les déclarations de conflits d’intérêt, sur leurs moyens, sur le type d’information qui devra être diffusé, sur le traitement des réclamations, etc. »
« Une arme contre les projets à venir »
Élargissant le débat, l’avocat tire le signal d’alarme. La nouvelle procédure pourra être organisée pour d’autres projets, postérieurement à la délivrance d’une autorisation administrative. Les entreprises, porteurs de projets et d’autorisations feraient bien de s’inquiéter, fait remarquer le juriste, soulignant un paradoxe. “Conçue pour faire passer un projet, cette nouvelle procédure pourrait devenir une arme contre les autres projets à venir”. Elle compromet, affirme l’avocat, la sécurité juridique des projets industriels ou d’infrastructures.
Selon Arnaud Gossement, « que l’on soit pour ou contre ce projet d’aéroport, nul ne peut se satisfaire de la création d’une procédure à ce point contraire aux principes et règles du droit de l’environnement. »
Au-delà de l’analyse juridique, « on peut s’interroger sur l’intérêt politique d’une telle procédure », estime l’avocat. « Quel que soit son résultat, celui-ci ne sera à l’évidence pas partagé dès l’instant où il aura été obtenu dans de telles conditions ».
(1) Constitué de cinquante membres, on y trouve les représentants des collectivités, des syndicats patronaux et de salariés, du parlement, des organisations de consommateurs et huit représentants des ONG du secteur de l’environnement.
The referendum on Notre-Dame-des-Landes will be held in June
15.3.2016 (Le Figaro)
[Imperfect translation into English below….]
VIDEO – Manuel Valls confirmed it on Tuesday to micro RMC. The consultation will involve only voters in Loire-Atlantique, said the Prime Minister.
Two key issues seem critical: the date and place. Manuel Valls confirmed on Tuesday morning, speaking to RMC, that the referendum on the proposed airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, announced by François Hollande in February, will take place “before the summer, in June”.
The Prime Minister also said that this consultation will involve “all the voters of the department of Loire-Atlantique”.
Following the announcement of a referendum, Matignon services had suggested that the scope of the referendum would be “locally defined” and “could match the department of Loire-Atlantique”. A delimitation confirmed by Manuel Valls. “This is the department that is most concerned by the impact, including the environmental impact, in part also economic, of this project,” explains the Prime Minister.
The territory was also chosen because “the public inquiry took place in the department of Loire-Atlantique, because it must be simple,” and because “the department of Loire-Atlantique is most likely to decide on the transfer to Notre-Dame-des-Landes “of the current Nantes airport Nantes Atlantique.
Since the start, this perspective does not have unanimous support. The airport must certainly take root in Loire-Atlantique, but the project is partly funded by other jurisdictions, including the Brittany. The presidents of neighboring departments such as Mayenne, Morbihan and the Maine-et-Loire have recently criticised the prospect of the consultation’s scope being limited to only the Loire-Atlantique.
Nationally, the foreign minister and former mayor of Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, supporting the project, said it is favorable. However the Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royal, defended the idea of referendum extended to the whole of the region Pays de la Loire.
The confirmation of a consultation “before the summer”
This limitation of voting in the Loire-Atlantique could assist the government, defender of the project. In early March, an Ifop poll established that 58% of the inhabitants of the department were in favor to the implementation of the airport. Opinion on the project is very divided, but nevertheless prepared to accept it going ahead: if a referendum was held next Sunday, 51% of respondents indicated they would vote in favor of the project, 39% that they would oppose and 10% that they were not decided. Nationally, however, 58% of French are opposed to the project according to a survey Odoxa.
Concerning the date, the Prime Minister had indicated in a previous interview with the daily Ouest-France, that he wanted the referendum to take place “before the summer” to consolidate the project and relaunch it in October. “Not beyond then, because the DUP (declaration of public utility) will fall,” argued Manuel Valls, who intended to support the expulsion of the ZAD site on the result of this consultation. “It will be necessary to carry out the expulsion in October, with a very important commitment of law enforcement, so that work can begin,” he explained.
On Sunday, France Inter reported that two dates were proposed for the consultation: on Sunday 19th or Sunday 26th June.
The announcement by Manuel Valls comes a little over a week before the end of the delay period granted to the historical inhabitants of the ZAD, about which deportation procedures were confirmed by the court in January. A demonstration against the project and to support those deported had brought together between 15,000 and 50,000 people on 27 February.
The pro-airport supporters vigilant, opponents unhappy
For the pro-airport association “Wings to the West”, these announcements are logical. The collective advances the same reasons as the Prime Minister. “The perimeter [for the consultation area] suits us, since it corresponds to the declaration of public utility and it concerns people who are most impacted by this project,” says the Figaro Guillaume Dalmard, spokesman for the association. “As for the date, it corresponds to our expectations,” he added.
And if the result of the consultation was positive, as predicted by the association, it would leave a “window of opportunity” for work before the end of the DUP in October. The supporters are “not satisfied, but serene, while remaining vigilant.” “We are waiting for details of the arrangements,” the spokesman said.
Conversely, several elected officials and project opponents lambasted those announcements. “Manuel Valls transforms a healing process into the new object of confrontation” as the territory selected matches “nothing” about the project’s relevance, said Senator ecologist Loire-Atlantique René Dantec, criticising the announcement. A criticism by MEP Yannick Jadot EELV, referred to a “masquerade”.
The original in French:
Le référendum sur Notre-Dame-des-Landes aura lieu au mois de juin
15.3.2016 (Le Figaro)
With referendum awaited, 10 – 15,000 attend another massive protest against new Nantes airport
On the 9th January, there were estimated to have been 20,000 people at huge protests against the planned new airport for Nantes in countryside at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Then on 26th January, the local court confirmed that 11 families would be evicted from their homes on the ZAD (zone à défendre) within about two months. On 13th February, President Hollande declared there would be a referendum on whether the airport should be built. This has caused local concerns. But neither the date nor the exact questions, nor the scope of the consultation’s geographical area, have been settled. In response to the referendum proposal, the local campaign organised another massive demonstration (manifestation), to show the authorities the strength of feeling against the airport. Around 10,000 to 15,000 people came, from all across France. There are over 100 support committees across the country. They filled all 4 lanes of two local dual-carriageways, for many hours – in a peaceful protest, with a festival atmosphere. Two of the Heathrow 13 (spared prison on 24th February, with suspended 6 week sentences for their Heathrow runway occupation) attended the protest, showing solidarity from the London campaign. Campaigners in Turkey, against the new Istanbul airport, also sent messages of support.
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François Hollande announces there will be a local referendum on the contentious new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes
In late January, the court in Nantes ruled that the remaining people living in the “ZAD”, where the planned airport would be at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, should start to be removed after 25th March. However, now President Hollande – realising that this has become an issue of huge national significance and hours after three Green lawmakers joined his cabinet as part of a government reshuffle – has said there will be a local referendum to decide if the new airport should happen. Hollande hopes to put an end to the matter, which has dragged on for years, with elections in France in 2017. The referendum may not be popular with proponents of the airport, though some consider there is a majority in support locally. It is also a concern for opponents, who ask: who will be polled – from how far around Nantes? People from Rennes and Brittany? What will the questions be? Will the alternatives be given? However, François Hollande has said the schedule is settled: “Work must begin in October. If the answer is yes in the referendum, everyone will have to accept the airport. If its “No” we all know that it is a project that has been spearheaded by the government, the government will have to assume the consequences.” The evictions cannot proceed, now there is to be a referendum. The 11 families, including 4 farms, are given a breathing space.
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