Thousands (20,000?) march to the ZAD at Notre Dame des Landes, planting their sticks symbolic of opposition to new airport
Date added: October 9, 2016
At Notre-Dame-des-Landes, where a new airport for Nantes is planned, there was a massive mobilisation on Saturday 8th October against it. Somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 people from many distant parts of France walked to the ZAD (zone à défendre), with sticks to symbolise their determination that this land will not be built on for the airport, which they are sure is not necessary. The sticks rang out on the roads surrounding the planned airport site, as the walkers arrived – and they planted the vast number of staffs in the soil, as an expression that they will be back to defend the site against the forces of the state. The only way the government, and the airport developer, Vinci, can take the site is by force – using huge numbers of riot police. They would have to take back a large area (1650 hectares), and keep it defended against zadistes for a long time. Might they try to take and hold part of the site? This situation is difficult, expensive and risky for the government. There have been violent clashes in the past, over the defence of the ZAD. At another protest site, the Sivens Dam, a protester – Rémi Fraisse – died after being hit by a police flash grenade. It is hoped the police would not use force for the evictions. The airport project got a small vote in its favour in June in a public consultation, though the fairness of that is questioned by objectors. There were delays waiting for legal permissions to destroy water vole habitat and wetlands, but these have now been approved.
A Notre-Dame-des-Landes, les opposants entament leur « chant des bâtons »
Par Rémi Barroux (Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique), envoyé spécial)
Plusieurs milliers d’opposants (12 800 manifestants selon la préfecture, plus de 40 000 selon les organisateurs) au projetd’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique) étaient rassemblés samedi matin sur la ZAD, pour démontrer que leur détermination restait intacte, en dépit de l’autorisation des travaux et des rumeurs d’évacuation de plus en plus fortes.
Thousands of opponents (12,800 demonstrators according to the prefecture, more than 40,000 according to the organizers) to the project of airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique) gathered Saturday morning on the ZAD, to demonstrate that their determination remained intact, despite the authorization of work and rumours of evacuation increasingly strong.
On roads that intersect the ZAD, the “zone à défendre””, south of the village of Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique), dozens of cars, trucks or campers already on Friday night littered the lanes.Les Fosses noires, les Vraies Rouges, les Planchettes… all places of life and resistance of the occupants seemed airport project have already had your fill of militants.
Mais c’est surtout à la ferme de Bellevue, haut lieu de la lutte, que l’on s’activait le plus. C’est là que samedi, des milliers de personnes – les plus optimistes espèrent compter des dizaines de milliers – ont convergé à l’occasion d’une nouvelle manifestation nationale contre le projet d’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes, à l’invitation des zadistes, des agriculteurs résistants historiques et du collectif d’associations qui anime la lutte.
But it is especially at Bellevue farm, a centre of the struggle, which was most busy. It was there that Saturday, thousands of people – the most optimistic hope to count tens of thousands – converged on the occasion of a new national demonstration against the airport project of Notre-Dame-des-Landes in the invitation of zadistes, historical resistant farmers and the collective of associations that drives the fight.
The “song sticks”
By naming this initiative “singing sticks” – walking stick, shepherd stick or self-defense – that every participant is invited to bring and leave there to serve the day the police would enter the area the zadistes displayed their willingness to defend the tens of living places where many of them have developed agricultural projects.
For weeks, rumors of intervention run on the ZAD and activists from the France full already preventively joined the grove. Among the new support, the CGT of the Vinci Group – the company that was awarded the construction and management of the future airport – took position against the transfer of Nantes Atlantique, the current airport platform. It calls Vinci of employees to refuse to work on any site linked to the project, and to invoke the right of withdrawal because the work should be done , obviously, under the protection of police.
Protesters plant wooden staffs
During a demonstration project against a controversial airport near Nantes on October 8, 2016 in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, western France. Protesters-have-been engaged in a 15-year legal battle to block the building of a major new airport on swampland outside the western city of Nantes. Approved in 2008, the project HAD been due to start in 2014 Repeatedly that has-been delayed due to fierce opposition by environmental protesters. / A
However, even if the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls , announced repeatedly that work would start in October or in the Autumn, nothing seems to indicating a start. Almost nothing now opposes the site – except a dispute with the Europe on compliance with environmental regulations and appeals. Project proponents can also claim a victory in the consultation which was held on June 26, the “yes” at transfer having won 55.17% of votes.
But the mobilization on Saturday, which was decided upon over the weekend national rally in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, held on July 9 and 10, is not intended as a response to the electoral defeat of the public consultation.
The lost ballot was then deemed biased, illegitimate. “This gathering is not a response to the June vote, but in Valls: you want to come clean the ZAD, well, we’ll be there! ”
As evidenced in the regional daily Ouest-France, on the eve of the event, Julien Durand, a leading figure of the fight, and host of inter-citizen Association of populations affected by the airport project (ACIPA).
Several evacuation scenarios
On the side of the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique, it is said to be ready for action. Several scenarios were worked, “finely enough” , says one in the entourage of the prefect. Some of them seem to have already been rejected by the Minister of the Interior, as the strategy of encircling the area of 1650 hectares which is to be built the future airport and the simultaneous evacuation of several hundreds of zadistes, determined to defend.
The scenario of a partial conquest of the area, it would then secure despite the presence of thousands of opponents around, do not seem unanimous. In all scenarios, law enforcement officials know it will take thousands of personnel, gendarmes and CRS. And that once the conquered land, and the construction started, it will keep the scene for many weeks or months.
And today, this reconquest of ZAD just seems impossible. The interior ministry ensures that there is no date set for the evacuation of the site. “The priority is to dismantle Calais ” , do we argued place Beauvau. “It does not leave the room for further substantial manipulation ” , confirms a source in the gendarmerie.
In addition, clashes between protesters and police during an attempted escape from ZAD against a dam project in Sivens (Tarn) that resulted in the death of a militant, Rémi Fraisse, killed by a grenade attack launched by a policeman on 26 October 2014, still in everyone’s mind. And the government is in no hurry to open a front it knows is risky, with just eight months of the presidential election.
Opponents can thus show their Saturday force. To the chagrin of supporters of the project, Bruno Retailleau, President ( The Republicans ) region in the lead, which urges the government to move to action. The association Wings to the West, spearheaded the pro-airport launched a new poster campaign: “We voted, zadistes out! ”
The prefect of Loire-Atlantique yesterday signed two decrees on the destruction of the water vole, a small rodent present on the airport project site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes , allowing the start of work, the prefecture announced today.
These two orders derogating for the destruction of this protected species to make the new airport, the future “Grand Ouest Airport” and its road access, the last two were essential for the State to engage work after the publication in December 2013, four decrees relating to the law on water and biodiversity.
“These orders are part of the continuity of authorisations already granted for the implementation of the proposed transfer of the airport of the great west of Nantes in Notre-Dame-des-Landes”, declared of public utility in 2008, said the prefecture in a statement.
Opponents of the proposed new Nantes airport, who have repeatedly stated they would attack these decrees upon publication, have two months to file an appeal before the administrative court of Nantes.
The water vole is a rodent living along the rivers and in wetlands. It is on the national list of land mammals protected since 15 September 2012, reminded the prefecture in a statement. The airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes should be initially opened in 2017, about twenty kilometers north of Nantes.
The uncertainty about the evacuation of the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes
By Raphaël Proust
September 29, 2016
The government had raised the month of October after the victory of “yes” to the local consultation, but many obstacles remain
The ZAD (zone defense) of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
The president of the region Pays de la Loire, Bruno Retailleau (LR), spoke onThursday about “ongoing preparations” for the evacuation of the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a prelude to the start of construction work for the airport. Two weeks ago, the prefect of the Loire-Atlantique signed a decree authorizing the evacuation of water voles, a protected species whose presence was an obstacle to the start of construction.
Will the work on the future airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes ever start?
With the favourable results of local consultation in June with the inhabitants of Loire-Atlantique, nothing seemed to oppose the evacuation of opponents of the project who have occupied the site for years, and which they have renamed “zone à défendre” (ZAD). October was even mentioned, but autumn is coming soon and nothing moves on the site of the Nantes grove.
For despite the government policy victory, which can now rely on the legitimacy of the public consultation vote, the obstacles still abound.
First, because the opponents are more determined than ever. After accepting, some reluctantly, to campaign for a ‘no’, they then say the process of the consultation, an how it was carried out, was “illegitimate” in their eyes.
Above all, “the mobilization is maximum” around Notre-Dame-des-Landes, explains Julien Bayou, spokesperson of Europe Ecology-Greens (EELV). “The preparation for the occupation of the site by the police does not go unnoticed on the ground because the zadistes monitor site equipment rentals, bookings of hotel rooms or even the closure of schools in neighboring towns, “he said.
Faced with opposition determined not to leave the field open to the gendarmes, only a major deployment of police seems to be able to overcome the resistance. This poses a political problem for the government.
Calais first. “It is difficult to explain the flaw in how thousands of gendarmes to take Notre-Dame-des-Landes in a full state of emergency when they are called on other missions and that ? their forces are streched, “says Julien Bayou. The immediate priority of the Ministry of Interior is rather to be sought in Calais, where Francois Hollande on Monday pledged the total dismantling of the “jungle”.
In favour of the airport project, the president of Republicans Pays de la Loire, Bruno Retailleau, has also given, on Thursday at France Bleu Loire Océan, hope “that the evacuation of Notre Dame des Landes will be a result” following that of that of Calais camp “by the end of the year.” There was also talk on Thursday with Manuel Valls about it, outside the convention areas.
Another obstacle: the multiple legal remedies have created over time an incredible imbroglio around the airport project. “The legal course of this project is exemplary and the 150 appeals filed by opponents were all rejected,” says the pro-airport association “Wings for the West” in a statement. These people “can be removed and they are quite aware of this reality,” she says. But the occupants sure they have not received eviction notices while opponents cling to European law.
The European Commission has indeed initiated infringement proceedings against France concerning the conditions for environmental assessment of the project. Litigation that would not prevent the evacuation of the ZAD, or the start of work by the government. Except France Ouest reported on Wednesday that the Commission’s Legal Service considered that “the work of building the airport project of Notre-Dame-des-Landes should remain suspended to ensure compliance with procedures agreed to become compliance “with EU law …