Nantes Airport News
More news from ACIPA at https://www.acipa-ndl.fr/
Thousands (20,000?) march to the ZAD at Notre Dame des Landes, planting their sticks symbolic of opposition to planned airport
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.
8th October – massive gathering at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, resonating with the sound of thousands of walking sticks
After the massive mobilisations against the planned new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, of January 9th and February 27th, the French government organised a biased consultation in June. That gave a small majority in favour of the airport scheme. Opponents of the airport believe the consultation did not give a fair result, due to the choice of its geographical cover. The government plans to start work on the airport in October, though those fighting the plans say there are still some legal details that are not yet complete. There is fear that the state will send in the gendarmes, and use force to clear the ZAD – the zone à defendre – which is where building needs to start. The ZAD has been occupied for years by those trying to block the scheme, and they have now built a large shed there, which they see as a demonstration of their determination not to be moved, and a base for the future. On 8th October there will be a huge protest against the ZAD being cleared by force. People who oppose the airport plan, from all over France, will converge. All are asked to walk, bringing walking sticks. There will be the same echo of the walking sticks on the ground, as at Larzac decades ago, as the people march. People will leave their sticks in the ZAD committing themselves together to come back for them, in the event of intervention by the authorities – to defend the farmers and their future of the land and the life on it.
Around 25,000 attend a massive protest against the Pointless New Airport – Notre-Dame-des-Landes
At another of the massive protests organised by the campaigners against the new airport, there were some 25,000 people, from across France. They came again, in huge numbers, from the 200 or so support committees across France and Belgium, who work to block the new airport. John Stewart attended and his blog about the event explains just how pointless the plan is to move the airport to this new site, closing down the existing Nantes airport, which is not even full. The new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes has become the most controversial environmental project in France. It is causing the Government of Francois Hollande a major headache. The (non-binding) referendum held on 26th June voted by a small majority for the new airport, but much of the pro vote was from areas some distance to the north, perhaps hoping for jobs or easier trips to the airport on holidays. The new airport is not being built to cope with high demand, or to avoid flights over Nantes. The economic case is very weak. Opponents feel the new airport is largely an ego project for local politicians. Work has to start before February 2017, when the planning consent runs out. There are fears there will be violent scenes – perhaps this autumn – when the army is likely to be called in to evict those defending the ZAD area. And all for such a pointless, seriously environmentally harmful, project with little real justification.
Joint statement by the Nantes anti-airport movement at Notre-Dame-des-Landes
This is the joint statement of the anti-airport movement on Sunday night following the results of the consultation. “As was shown the various components of the movement, the setting, the process and the content of this consultation were fundamentally biased . This was based on a series of government lies and was radically unfair. There was no question for us that this is just one step in the long struggle for a future without an airport at Notre Dame des Landes. This struggle continues tonight. We know that the attacks of the government and pro-airport side will be strengthened. On our side, we will not cease to live, grow and protect this farmland. It will continue to be defended with great energy because it carries the ineradicable hopes today against the destruction of the living and the commodification of the world. We call on all supporters and committees throughout France and beyond to mobilize and be vigilant in the weeks and months ahead. There will not be an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. We call in this sense, and in the first instance, for a massive convergence at Notre-Dame-des-Landes for a summer anti-airport gathering, on 9th and 10th July.”
Notre-Dame-des-Landes referendum: 55% majority in favour of new airport – ACIPA fights on
There was a referendum in the Loire-Atlantique département on 26th June, with the question whether people backed the moving of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport south of Nantes, to a site north of Nantes, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Finally the voting was 55% in favour of the move. The area to be destroyed for the new airport is good farm land and valuable wetland habitat, and there has been fierce, determined opposition to the project for years. The local opposition, focused through ACIPA, was deeply critical of the way the referendum was organised. They believe areas other than just those in Loire-Atlantique should have been consulted. Some of these areas would be opposed to the move, and some have to contribute public funds towards it. The government wanted the poll as early as possible, as there is a “declaration of public utility” lasting till October, so work has to start by then. The prime minister, Manual Valls, made a statement as soon as the referendum result was known, that “the government will implement the verdict.” Those backing the new airport want to clear the protesters living illegally on the ZAD, some of the land on which the airport would be built, moved away soon, so clearing work can start. ACIPA said this result was just one step in their long struggle against the airport, and their struggle now continues.
English translations of some videos explaining arguments against a new Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport
The local opposition around Nantes, to the building a new airport north of Nantes, have produced a series of short videos, setting out some of the issues. There will be a referendum on 26th June, for people in the area, on whether the existing airport, Nantes-Atlantique, should be closed and a new airport constructed at Notre Dame des Landes (NDDL). The opponents of the NDDL airport say, among other things: – The number of flights at Nantes has hardly grown in 10 years. – It is possible to slightly grow the current Nantes-Atlantique airport (just south of Nantes) and slightly extend the runway by 60 metres. – It is possible to take measures to slightly reduce the noise at the Nantes-Atlantique airport. – The new NDDL airpot would cost the taxpayer about €280 million. – There would be no more destinations from the new NDDL airport than from the Nantes-Atlantique airport. Germany has 45 airports, and France has 156 airports. – The NDDL airport would mean the destruction of 700 hectares of wetland and about 900 hectares of farmland. – Many protected species would be lost. – About 200 agriculture-associated jobs would be lost, and most of the alleged new jobs would just move from the old airport. – The costs to passengers will be higher at the NDDL airport. And there is a lot more. With English translations here.
Local referendum on whether to move Nantes-Atlantique airport to Notre-Dame-des-Landes – 26th June
On 26th June there will be a consultation/referendum on the issue of whether the existing airport, Nantes-Atlantique, just south of Nantes should be moved to a site north of the town at Notre-Dame-des- Landes (NDDL). The government announced this referendum back in March.The question that will be asked is: “Do you support the proposed transfer of Nantes-Atlantique airport to the municipality of Notre-Dame-des-Landes?” The referendum is open to voters of the municipalities of Loire-Atlantique. Opponents are running an active campaign, to provide information to every potential voter and attending public meetings, with their spirit of quiet determination. Opponents, including local campaign ACIPA, say nobody asked for this referendum, and it does not in any way legitimize the airport project at NDDL, which they consider to be illegal, ruinous and destructive. They say the conditions for real democratic debate are not met; the area chosen for the referendum excludes some important local communities; the question is biased; and there is no guarantee of fair treatment of the opposition. They are not impressed that the Prime Minister has announced the start of work in the autumn, despite the referendum. They say the airport cannot proceed until various legal matters have been sorted out. There will be another huge anti-NDDL gathering on 9th and 10th July. “On a tous une bonne raison de voter NON.” (We all have a reason to vote NO.)
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.
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.
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.
Court in Nantes permits the evictions of 11 families, in 2 months, for proposed new airport
The High Court of Nantes decided on Monday 25th January, to permit the evictions of the long-term inhabitants and opponents of the airport project at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Loire-Atlantique. A period of two months was given to the eleven families occupying houses, including four farms. The time limit does not apply to farm buildings or livestock, as they farmers have made it clear it is not possible to move a farm in two months. The legal judgement said the “the legal conditions for the eviction applications were deemed met in all cases.” The lawyers for the project’s opponents had considered the expulsions were “not consistent with the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights”. The company trying to build the new airport, AGO, had hoped to negotiate with the land owners to find an amicable settlement, but eleven families refused. It had been feared that there would be punitive fines, each day, for the families if they did not move out, but the magistrate said this was not justified as it would be “disproportionate for families who have only modest means.” Opponents say this eviction decision will now force the government to act. The state will have to forcibly remove people, after 26th March, from an area wider than the ZAD (zone à défendre). The attempts at forced evictions in 2012 ended in violent scenes.
A thousand opponents of new Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport protest outside evictions court hearing
Backers of proposed airport at Nantes want the eviction of farmers from the site. More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the court in Nantes where the hearing – that could evict the last 11 families living on the proposed airport – was heard. Aéroport du Grand Ouest (AGO), a subsidiary of Vinci Airports, is requesting crippling fines of up to €1,000 per person per day against farmers who are refusing to move, as well as the seizure of farm properties and animals. Around 300 environmental protesters are currently camped out around the site in a long-standing protest that last weekend mobilised 20,000 people for “Operation Escargot”, an action blocking traffic on regional roads, including the Loire bridge. One Nantes resident facing expulsion, Sylvain Fresnau, a 54-year-old farmer with three children, said he did not believe that evictions would be possible due to the strength of local feeling. He said: “We don’t need another airport in Nantes. We already have 145 airports in this country”. Conservation lawyers say the new court action violates a commitment made by President François Hollande that there would be no more evictions until legal avenues had been fully exhausted. He has not kept his promise, and the case has become symbolic for French environmentalists. The judgement in the evictions case is not expected before 25 January.
Estimated 20,000 protesters from across France demonstrate massive opposition to proposed Nantes airport
Organisers of the massive peaceful protest on the 9th January, against the proposed new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes estimated there were 20,000 people at the demonstration. The aim was to show the massive opposition there is to the airport, and especially to the forced eviction of the 11 families and 4 farmers from land on the planned construction site. At the protest, traffic was halted on the Nantes ring road, using dozens of tractors and blocking access to the city’s airport, Nantes Atlantique. Protesters say that the €580 million project is not necessary,will be detrimental to the environment and is a wasteful use of government funds.The battle against this development has been going on for 15 years, and has become a focal issue across France, against unnecessary high carbon projects that damage the environment or uproot people. There are over 100 support committees in places across France. The airport would require the loss of valuable marshy habitat, home to important wildlife, and good agricultural land. Some agricultural organizations threatened to maintain an indefinite blockade of one of the main river crossings, the Chevire Bridge over the Loire. Clashes between protesters and the authorities in 2012 resulted in a temporary halt to construction. The last major protest resulted in clashes with police in February 2014. There was a legal hearing in Nantes about the evictions on Tuesday 13th January – with again a huge crowd outside – the outcome is expected to be known on 25th January.
Protests and mobilisations on Saturday 9th January against evictions for planned Nantes airport at NDDL
On Saturday 9th January, there will again be huge mobilisations of people against the planned new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in western France. Not only will there be gatherings at NDDL itself, and in Nantes but the many support committees in other places across France will plan mobilisations too. These included a bike convoy and a protest on foot in Paris, where people will be singing and dancing and giving out literature. The protest is because the authorities plan to carry out compulsory evictions on the 11 families and 4 farms in the ZAD (the zone à défendre), which are due to start in January. They are in the area where Vinci, the company planning to build the airport, want to start work. There is to be a court hearing on 13th January to request their removal, with a fine of € 200 to € 1,000 / day / person and the seizure and sequestration of property and farm animals. People who are passionate that the airport should not be built are not prepared to see these evictions. The government had agreed they would not happen until all legal remedies had been fully exhausted – and they have not. The airport opponents believe it would make better environmental and economic sense to improve the existing Nantes airport, rather than ruin valuable natural habitats and destroy productive farmland. They want a proper independent study done.
Open letter by ACIPA to François Hollande asking for forced evictions at NDDL to be stopped
At Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL), where a new airport for Nantes is planned, there are due to be forced evictions of those who remain on the land, after a tribunal hearing on 10th December. At the moment 11 families and four farms located in the area of the airport wants to build. The protest group at NDDL have now written to the President of the Republic François Hollande, to ask him to prevent these expulsions. The expulsion order is by AGO (Aéroports du Grand Ouest, a subsidiary of Vinci) on behalf of the state. ACIPA says that therefore, the responsibility lies with the President. There was a month long hunger strike in May 2012, and to end that, an assurance was given that there would not be evictions. That was updated in 2014. ACIPA say the families believed the assurances by government, and they have therefore not made arrangements to leave. The families and the farmers face all their property and livestock being put into receivership if they will not leave. The government made successive promises that all legal remedies would be pursued to exhaustion, and appeals are still pending. ACIPA asks how the President will keep the trust of potential voters, if he does not keep his word. ACIPA want a meeting with the President, the waiving of expulsion orders, and a proper investigation into options to improve the existing Nantes airport
COP21: 200 bikes and 5 tractors from Notre-Dame-des-Landes (planned airport site) set off for the Paris climate talks
A convoy of 200 bicycles and five tractors has left Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique) going to Paris for the COP21 talks, to demand the abandonment of the proposed new Nantes airport. The protesters, most wearing yellow vests proclaiming “No Airport” straddled their bikes in mid morning for a “tracto-vélo” that should arrive in Paris on November 28, two days before the opening of the international climate conference. They will “denounce the blatant hypocrisy between the will of the government to fight against global warming and the destruction of more than 1,600 hectares of farmland and wetlands in order to build a new airport.” During the week the convoy entitled “Cap sur la COP” will make the trip in stages of 40-70 km, and its stop in various towns and cities, to stay with local supporters and hold meetings and discussions with their many local support committees, that oppose the planned new airport. After the terrorist attacks in Paris, the organisers had been unsure about proceeding, but say they will not confront the police in any way, and are just attending in order to put across their message. The convoy plans to meet up with other convoys outside Paris before the COP. Though the convoy is mainly cyclists, there will be some vehicles to transport people who can not make a long journey by bike, and for logistics.
Planned airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes deemed one of Europe’s “Grands Projets Inutiles et Imposés”
While the authorities in Loire Atlantique are hoping to start work on the new Nantes airport, to be built over good farmland and wetland at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, (NDDL)opponents say this is premature. While the French Prime Minister, Manual Valls, is keen for work to get started, the main opposition group to the airport plan – ACIPA – say President François Hollande has recently confirmed that the legal challenges should be allowed to run their course. There are still some procedures to go through. Opponents produced a huge beach art protest – writing in the sand: ” Pour le climat, pas d’aeroport a Notre-Dame-des-Landes.” ACIPA points out that when the airport and its backers say they will be “resuming” work on the site, they never in fact started. ACIPA also points out that the tendering for work contract is also a PR thing, as various administrative permits must first be obtained. The new NDDL airport is being considered as one of a class of Grands Projets Inutiles et Imposés – big unnecessary imposed projects – along with HS2 in the UK, a new high-speed Lyon-Turin line, gold mining using cyanide in Romania, and a high speed rail line in the Basque Country. A people’s tribunal in Turin will look at all these cases to reach a joint decision that will have ethical, moral, political value, in the broadest sense.
Work on the new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes might start by early next year
In 2008 plans to build a new airport for Nantes, 20 miles north of the city at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, were approved. The plan is to move the airport from its current site to the south of the city, Nantes Atlantique Airport, and build over farmland and wetlands, that are rich in wildlife and have good agriculture. The new “Aéroport du Grand Ouest” is intended to be a “gateway to western France” with up to 9 million passengers per year by 2050. For that tiny number, it wants two runways. It has been bitterly opposed for years, and while it was originally to open in 2014, work may now eventually start soon. Opponents have done everything they could to stop it, including huge occupations of parts of the site, scuffles with the authorities that sometimes turned unpleasant, a hunger strike, and recourse to legal challenges on European law. Finally it seems all legal avenues have been exhausted. The Prefecture of the Loire-Atlantic announced in effect that work on the airport will start, and a call for tenders has been launched. Compensation will have to be paid to those having their land expropriated, and environmental mitigation will have to be done – including protection of water voles. There are still people (zadistes) occupying shacks on part of the site, and they would have to be removed. Opponents do not believe any work can start yet. They say the airport is not needed, it is not consistent with climate targets, and the damage to farmland and habitats cannot be justified. .
French court rules against environmental challenges by opponents of new Nantes airport
On 17th July the Administrative Tribunal of Nantes rejected all appeals by opponents of the new airport to be built at Notre Dame des Landes. The legal challenge was on two areas of environmental law, on destruction of wetlands and movement of protected species. It ruled that the project does not pose environmental concerns. This was one of the last legal confrontations between opponents and supporters of the transfer of Nantes-Atlantique airport to the village of Notre-Dame-des-Landes (building a new airport there instead, to be called L’aeroport du Grand Ouest). This battle has been going on since the plan was first proposed in 1967. Those wanting the new airport hope work could start very soon, but Europe Ecologie-Les Verts believe appeals are not yet completed and work on the airport cannot resume. The “zadistes” (ZAD – Zone À Défendre) have been occupying the site for 5 years, and farmers hostile to the project do not intend to give up. Opponents of the airport ACIPA and CEDPA) also intend to challenge with a prefectural order for the protection of the water vole. There are also problems of crested or marbled newts, great horned beetles and the floating plantain, an endangered water plant. In addition the CGT trade union is opposed to the new airport believing that modifying the old airport is a better option.
Many thousands of determined opponents of new Nantes airport gather before final court decision
Over the weekend of 11th and 12th July there was a massive gathering at Notre Dame des Landes, in western France, to show the strong opposition to the building of a new runway there, to replace the current Nantes airport. This “mobilisation” is the 15th that the organisers, ACIPA, have put on over the years. It was estimated that perhaps 15,000 people attended over the two days. People at Nantes are very aware of the carbon and climate implications of a new airport, as well as serious local environmental destruction. They also link the Nantes campaign with other huge infrastructure projects across Europe, that would be damaging in terms of carbon emissions – such as a new runway in the UK. There is a desire to link up campaigns against such developments. The gathering combined a lot of workshops and education sessions with fun, with music, dancing and food -but with a very serious message. On Friday 17th July the Nantes Administrative Court will rule on the last 17 appeals by opponents of the airport project, on several environmental issues in contention with EU law, such as on water law and destruction of protected species. It is thought the court will rule against the opponents,but they will appeal. These legal issues are all that is holding up building of the airport.
Aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes: building permit suspended temporarily awaiting environmental appeals
At Nantes, a new airport to replace the existing one, is planned at Notre Dame des Landes. It has now been announced by the Prefecture Loire-Atlantique that the building permits filed in April 2013 have now been suspended pending appeals on environmental decrees. Two appeals were filed against the project by environmental groups and community opposing the project: one against the prefectural decree regarding the directive on water; the other against the decree on the transfer of protected species. The instruction “will resume on the basis of a record that will reflect the changing conditions of implementation of the project (date of commissioning, development of traffic).” It was recently revealed by Canard Enchaîné, the weekly satirical French newspaper, that the new airport buildings and facilities will actually be considerably smaller than those of the current airport. They might even be below the necessary standards, and the distance passengers would need to walk would be longer. The authorities admit it will be “more compact” but say it is scalable from 4 million passengers per year up to even 9 million eventually.
Around 20,000 attended a damp but determined weekend at Notre Dame des Landes, against planned Nantes airport
Up to 20,000 or so people (estimates vary) gathered at Notre Dame des Landes over the weekend of 5th and 6th July, from across France, to support the campaign against the planned airport, and show their solidarity. Though dampened by almost continuous rain on the first day, spirits were not dimmed, and some 50 talks and debates went on – under canvas. There were also concerts by popular French singers, as well as stalls and activities for all ages. Some of those taking part in the weekend are opposing other Large Uneccessary Imposed Projects (Les Grands Projets Inutiles Imposés) across Franch, with a sincere desire to stop mega-projects that do great environmental harm, for dubious economic benefit. Work on the airport project has been frozen since 2012, largely due to legal obstructions. The last large protest by the Nantes opponents, organised by ACIPA, was on 22 February 2014, attended by between 20 000 and 50 000 people in streets of Nantes, which was severely policed, and from which there were injuries and some public damage.This weekend’s event was peaceful, and once the sun came out, the sky was filled with protest kites.
Huge gathering at Notre Dame des Landes – 20,000 + expected – this weekend against new Nantes airport
A huge gathering is taking place this weekend, at Notre Dame des Landes, in western France, against the planned airport at Nantes. This airport has been proposed for years, to replace the existing Nantes airport. It has been bitterly and fiercely opposed, not only by those whose land and farms will be expropriated by the plans, and other local people who do not want their area and their countryside destroyed. It is also opposed by thousands of people from across France. This weekend is now becoming a regular annual protest, each summer. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people are expected for a huge festival, with music, poetry, speeches, fun and food sharing. Caravans of supporters have been making their way to Notre Dame des Landes, on foot and bike (as well as by car) for several weeks, some walking huge distances. The airport planning is bogged down in legal challenges and legal details. Though work was expected to start this spring, nothing has happened. This airport project is one of a number of Grands Projets Inutiles Imposés which are being fought not only in France, but in other European countries.
Huge mobilisation planned at Notre Dame des Landes on 5/6 July with hope the airport project can be withdrawn
The campaign at Notre Dame des Landes, against the planned new Nantes airport, continues. On the weekend of 5th and 6th July, a huge mobilisation is planned, with people coming from areas across France to show their opposition and resistance to the plans. The campaign is adamant they want nothing less than the abandonment of the airport plan. The project is held up still, because of legal appeals and EU Directives on water and threatened species, but it has not yet been cancelled. More people are now living on the ZAD, and more of it is now being cultivated, with a farm saved. Some delay is due to an environmental assessment being needed on the whole project, rather than separate bits of it. The Socialist and Green Parties, and the new Minister for Environment, Ségolène Royal, agreed after the recent election that no work can start till all the legal processes are completed. Local campaigners want farmers and residents to be able to plan their futures, free of the airport threat. They hope this project, and other “Grands projets inutiles et imposés” that are land-hungry, biodiversity destructive, guzzling aquatic and fossil fuel resources as well as public subsidies, can be stopped.
Thousands across France will converge on Nantes for 5/6th July – many marching with walking stick relay
Over the weekend of 5th and 6th July , there will be another massive mobilisation at Notre Dame des Landes, against the planned new airport – to replace the existing Nantes airport. Thousands will attend from across France. There are around 200 support committees across the country, working to oppose the airport. Now there will be “convergences” from across France, where people are already setting out to walk to the protest. Others will travel, by bike, and many also by vehicle – having attended protest rallies in the areas from where they start. The chosen symbol for these marches, or “caravans” will be their walking sticks. Remembering the civil protests in the 1970s against a military camp at Larzac, those walking will bring with them a walking stick (engraved with their name, and the region from which they come), and the rhythmic noise of these clacking on the tarmac will be, as with the Larzac march to Paris in 1978, the sound signature of this part of the protest. Those who cannot complete the whole march will pass on their walking sticks as a relay, so they arrive at Notre Dame des Landes.
NDDL Le Copain 44 sème pour l’avenir
30.5.2014 Opponents of the new Nantes airport at Notre Dames des Landes today sowed 10 hectares of land in the ZAD (Zone a defendre) that has been fallow for 2 years, with 300 kilos of buckwheat. The land is where the airport would be.
La Commission européenne ouvre une procédure d’infraction contre la France, à laquelle il est reproché de n’avoir pas mené d’évaluation environnementale sur ce projet controversé.
The European Commission opens infringement procedure against France, which is accused of failing to conduct an environmental assessment of this controversial project.
After huge protest against Nantes airport on 22nd February, ACIPA reaffirms its values
March 13, 2014
At the huge protest in Nantes, on 22nd February, regrettably there was some violence, some rioting and a harsh response from the police and security services – with some injuries. The organisers of the event, ACIPA, have written of their regret about the disturbance, but their determination to continue the battle against the planned airport – in unspoiled French farmland. ACIPA say the want to thank all participants who responded overwhelmingly to the call for a peaceful and festive family event. They regret that protesters were unable to follow the planned route of the protest, and that there were some difficulties with the organisation of this huge demonstration. ACIPA reiterates its full support to the people injured and invites them to get in touch if necessary. They intend to continue protests in a peaceful and determined way, and are grateful to the support committees across France, helping in their fight. They continue to hope legal challenges on water and biodiversity loss will make the planned airport illegal.
Huge protest in centre of Nantes against new airport – forceful police resistance; some rioting, violence and injuries
February 23, 2014
A huge protest took place in Nantes on 22nd February, against the planned new replacement airport to be built at Notre Dame des Landes, some miles to the north. The organisers estimated some 50 – 60,000 protesters, who came in from supportive groups from regions all across France. There are reported to have been 65 coach loads of protesters who travelled to Nantes to take part, and 520 tractors, brought by supportive farmers from surrounding areas. The protests were put down with considerable force by the police, using water canon, rubber bullets and tear gas. The issue has become very political in France. With elections coming up this year, the Prime Minister (and former Mayor of Nantes and ardent backer of the new airport) is thought unlikely to back down from pressing for the airport. However, it is not thought likely that there will be forceful evictions of the farmers and activists who are occupying the land allocated for the airport, called the ZAD – Zone à Défendre as it would be unpopular. An opinion poll found 56% of those surveyed were against the new airport. The courts have ruled it can go ahead, but there are appeals on ground of the law on water and on biodiversity. Click here to view full story..
The Nantes protest and rioting against proposed airport – blog by John Stewart
Regional prefect signs orders on water & biodiversity – real threat work might start on Notre-Dame des Landes airport
January 6, 2014
Support continues to grow for the Nantes campaigners There are now over 200 support groups backing the campaigners fighting the proposed new airport at Notre-Dames-des-Landes outside Nantes. The campaign suffered a setback when the EU refused to insist the French authorities should carry out a full environmental assessment of the impact of the new airport. On 21st December the local prefecture finally signed the papers, on the law relating to water and biodiversity. There is now a real threat that the Notre-Dame des Landes airport could be built. However, the battle is far from over as the opponents will take legal action to get the papers annulled, and suspend construction, through proving the state is infringing part of the Water Act. Elected environmentalists are willing to break their alliance with the Socialists in regional council over the issue. They will leave the alliance if the airport goes ahead, and form a blocking minority politically. There will also be a mass mobilization across France. The next big demonstration is on 22nd February. The Nantes campaign, ACIPA, say they will block the building work. ACIPA say: “We will not let them! Work will not start!” They are anticipating a new wave of expulsions on the land earmarked for the airport, where there are a dozen legal occupants and up to 200 illegally occupants.
European Commission approves state aid for the construction of French airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes
November 20, 2013
There are plans for a new airport for Nantes, in western France, to be built some 12 miles to the north of the town, at Notre Dame des Landes. The new airport has been fiercely opposed. The proponents of the new airport claim the existing one is now full, with over 3.5 million passengers, and planes over-fly Nantes. The European Commission has decided that it is suitable to give a public subsidy of €150 million to the company to develop the new airport, Société Aéroports du Grand Ouest. The EC says this is compatible with the EU rules on State aid, and they say it will help improve regional connectivity and links with the rest of the EU, without unduly distorting competition in the internal market. This appears to be a very bad decision on the use of public money. The Commission seems to have believed everything it has been told by the authorities who want to build the airport. There is, in reality, no congestion at the existing airport and the economic benefits were hotly challenged in a report by CE Delft, commissioned by the local campaign. It is also worrying that the Commission is agreeing to State Aid for an airport in what is generally quite a wealthy area. Click here to view full story…
Speech against the “Grands projets inutiles et imposés” at European Commission’s Trans-European Transport Networks conference
October 18, 2013
There was a European Commission conference in Talinn on 16-17th October, organised through Infrastructure TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Networks). A similar meeting has been held annually for several years. Its aim was for European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, Ministers, Members of the European Parliament and key stakeholders to gather to discuss the future development of the trans-European transport network. One of the speeches at the conference was by Madeleine Wahlberg, who has spent many years researching and lecturing in the planning and public policy field, particularly focusing on the decision processes behind major schemes. She spoke of the Grands projets inutiles et imposés (big, unnecessary imposed projects) across Europe – such as huge road schemes, airport building, high speed rail lines, motorways and barrages. She made the point that opponents of these huge schemes want social justice,and they want transport that is environmentally responsible, that adopts a Life Cycle Assessment and that applies the precautionary principle. Current TEN-T proposals embody massive environmental destruction. Click here to view full story…
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: 1,000 kites “occupy” the sky – symbolic of opponents’ determination to keep it free of planes
August 4, 2013 On Sunday 4th August, as many as 8,000 people gathered at Notre Dame des Landes as part of a weekend of protest against the planned new airport for Nantes. People have again come from all over France to show their support for the airport opposition. In the morning, they flew some 1,000 or so kites, many that had been made in preceding weeks and many with slogans on them. The aim of the kite flying was symbolically to occupy the skies and show that the skies above the Notre Dame des Landes bocage countryside (the site chosen for the kite flying is due to be an airport terminal) are free; the campaigners intend these skies to remain free from planes. Some of the kites read, in French, “Pour que nos libertés occupent le ciel” and “Le ciel libre aux hommes libres” (“For our freedom occupy the sky”, “Free sky to free men” ). The two day gathering had a festival atmosphere, with music (musicians playing under a sign that read “Un aéroport à NDDL, jamais !”) and also lectures and speeches. ACIPA has been organized a summer gathering for 13 years on the same site, but this was the largest yet. Click here to view full story…
Notre-Dame-des-Landes : les anti-aéroport ouvrent des ateliers de cerfs-volants (= kite workshops)
29.7.2013 To show the opposition to a new Nantes airport at Notre Dame des Landes continues (though the airport progress has been seriously slowed down and is no longer headline news for a while) there will be a huge “occupation of the sky” at NDDL, with thousands of kites flow (wind permitting). “Like the earth, the sky of Notre Dame des Landes will remain free”.
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: occupation du ciel (occupation of the sky) 3 and 4 August
Nantes campaigners say: Let’s bury the Notre Dame des Landes airport project for good ! 3rd & 4th August – huge summer gathering.
June 17, 2013 Over the weekend of 3rd and 4th August, at Nantes, there will be a weekend gathering of all those who have worked over the past years to oppose a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. This is part of a series of protests against Imposed Useless Major Projects (les Grands Projets Inutiles et Imposés) across and outside France. There will be music, forums and debates, on a range of subjects such as threats to agricultural land, environmental and energy transition, urbanization, spatial planning, transport, water and biodiversity. Thecampaigners say this will be “The essential rally this summer to defend the land and agricultural jobs that are threatened, for better use of public money, and to stop projects as useless as destructive, here as elsewhere!” It will also be THE place to invent and create, in solidarity, essential alternatives on the fight against global warming and the return to solid citizen representation, which they feel has been removed from local people during the process of forcing through the new airport plans.confiscated. They say: “No giving up ! Neither here, nor anywhere else!” Click here to view full story…
Nearly 40,000 people form a 25km human chain surrounding site of proposed new Nantes airport
May 12, 2013
A huge number of protesters from across France organised themselves into a human chain in the early afternoon on Saturday. There are likely to have been almost 40,000 though the authorities give a lower attendance figure. The human chain surrounded the site of the proposed new Nantes airport, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, with its two planned runways and new passenger terminal. The airport has been intended as a replacement for the current Nantes airport. Large numbers of people had come long distances to be there, many travelling overnight by bus, and then shared their picnics in a good natured event with a festive, but determined, spirit. The opponents of the new airport say that it is not needed, the economic arguments don’t stack up, it will increase carbon emissions, and will destroy valuable farmland and biodiversity. At the moment, the project is considerably delayed, but it is still going ahead. Its opponents want it stopped, and they show no sign of reducing their intense opposition. Click here to view full story… with many more photos …
Dialogue Commission on Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport reports: project delayed but confirmed
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. Click here to view full story…
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…
Guardian report on the huge protests against planned Nantes airport and the battle against evictions
December 10, 2012 The Guardian reports on the battle against a new Nantes airport. On 11th December a French judge will decide whether to authorise a fresh round of forced police evictions of the squatters who live on the area of the proposed airport. Previous attempts to dislodge protesters brought hundreds of French riot police who fired teargas and rubber bullets, some climbing trees and teargassing people down from tree-houses, sparking dozens of injuries and what locals described as “war scenes”. In recent months, police swoops have razed wooden huts and vegetable gardens, immediately inspiring hundreds more squatters to arrive from across Europe to rebuild the camps and strengthen the protests. The protesters, including farmers, locals and green politicians, argue that building a brand new airport for France’s sixth largest city, which already has an award-winning airport, is both an environmental disaster and a waste of public money during an economic crisis. Support groups have sprung up across France. Click here to view full story…
French farmers join environmental activists in protest against Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport
December 7, 2012 Useful article in English about the protests at Notre Dame des Landes, against a new Nantes airport. It says since mid-October, the number of occupiers has grown from 150 to as many as 500 at any given time. Today, they appear ubiquitous on the roads, in the fields and in the woods, building tents and cabins. With media attention now focused on Notre-Dame-des-Landes, Ayrault has pledged to form a commission to reopen talks on the airport. It is unclear what the commission will be able to accomplish. So far, the many evictions have made Notre-Dame-des-Landes headline news across the country, drawn increasing numbers of occupiers and strengthened links between the squatters and the farmers, who are determined to stay put. “We cannot fight and look for another farm,” says Marcel Thébault. “We can do one or the other, but not both. So today, we have not looked for another farm”. “If we fight, the main reason is not because it is our farm and because we have put in so much work here. It’s difficult to leave a farm, but we could do it if the project was good. But on every level, [this airport] is bad. Also, we are so many together to fight this project. So, we stay.” Click here to view full story…
Blog on Nantes: How far is the government entitled to go in enforcing the building of a new airport?
28.11.2012 This is a personal blog on the subject of the proposed building of a new airport at Nantes, and gives both some background of the opposition and a personal account of being subject to tear gas. Apparently the sequence of events was as follows: some demonstrators tried to climb into the grounds of the Prefecture in Nantes The police then used the water cannon on them. Stones were then thrown at the water cannon operator. The police then let off a tear gas grenade. He says “If any structure can only be built by the state enforcing its will by violence on protesters, should it be built at all? And when that structure is as pointless as an airport for millions as the time of peak oil means air travel must diminish, who is benefiting by its construction? http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=2262
Anti-airport activist sentenced to five months in prison
28.11.2012 Three anti-airport protesters appeared in court in Nantes. They were judged for gathering, violence against persons exercising public authority carry weapons (slingshots, catapults) and rebellion. A fourth militant anti-airport was brought before the court. The latter is the subject of an open information because he refused to give his identity. More details One got a 5 month sentence, and the two others got suspended sentences. Details….
BBC finally reports on “Battle lines drawn over new airport for Nantes”
November 28, 2012
With the story finally getting front-page treatment in the press, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is under pressure to explain how – at a time of growing environmental concerns and dwindling financial resources – building a €550m (£445m) airport in a city that already has one is the right course of action. As a former mayor of Nantes, Mr Ayrault is one of the airport’s most vociferous supporters. Protesters have dubbed it the “Ayraultport” in his honour. But he presides over a coalition government whose other main participant – the Green Party – opposes the scheme. To defuse the tension, Mr Ayrault announced over the weekend a moratorium on work at the site. A “dialogue commission” is to be created so that opponents can once again express their concerns. The figures given by the proponents of the airport are hotly disputed by opponents of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, who argue that with proper investment the existing airport at Nantes could be sufficiently enlarged. Click here to view full story…
Activists at Notre Dame des Landes use tractors to try to prevent demolitions – and set conditions for dialogue
November 26, 2012
Dozens of people attended Monday morning’s call by ACIPA, the main association of opponents to the project of the future airport of Nantes, on the site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, “to protect the reoccupied huts”. On Sunday night 45 tractors were positioned and chained around the new cabins built by the project’s opponents, during the fourth day of very high tensions and a forceful police presence. Since Friday, the police have re-intervened in larlge numbers to expel and destroy all the settlements that had been rebuilt since the first wave of destruction in October. There have been sharp clashes causing injuries to both sides. The protesters have said they will not enter into dialogue until the police presence is removed. They say they may be prepared to talk to government about stopping the airport but not just on slightly limiting its environmental impact. Click here to view full story…
26 novembre 2012
Encore hier nous apprenions que les forces de police ont attaqué très violemment les militants et les habitants de la zone à défendre (ZAD) de Notre Dame des Landes (NDDL), dans la soirée le gouvernement agitait le leurre d’un nouveau temps de dialogue, se donnant ainsi un court délai avant d’imposer un projet inutile économiquement, socialement et écologiquement. La FASE réitère son soutien à la lutte des opposants au projet de ce 146ème aéroport, qui ont fait la preuve de l’aberration de cette conception obsolète du transport. Les chiffres prouvent encore une fois que ces projets de nouvelles infrastructures, pensées il y a plusieurs décennies, s’appuient sur des projections de flux complètement erronées. See full article
Notre Dames des Landes – Réoccupation de la Z.A.D:http://youtu.be/qud2DbeLP0I via
@youtube #nddl montage photo This is a montage of a great many pictures of the reoccupation of the ZAD (Zone a Defendre) on 17th November. With song (in French) about it.
Update from ACIPA on 19th November:
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: Citizen mobilization against the airport project extends
As many as 30,000 demonstrators from across France in peaceful protest against Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport
November 17, 2012
On Saturday perhaps as many as almost 40,000 people (estimates range from 13,500 to 40,000) – and some 400 tractors – gathered to protest against the proposed airport Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Despite the strong mobilization, socialists politicians do not want to abandon the project – which was supported strongly by Jean-Marc Ayrault. – who used to be Mayor of Nantes and is now Prime Minister. This was the reoccupation demonstration, aiming to try and reoccupy some of the land evacuated forcefully by police last month on the site of the future airport. Behind a large banner: “Against the airport and its world the struggle takes off”, the protesters gained a wooded area where they built a small house to shelter opponents, using a human chain and tractors to bring in the wood for construction. The prefecture has reiterated that these buildings were will not be allowed to remain, but the protesters intend to stay. They have set up a tent on land loaned by a local farmer as a new headquarters for the opposition and a first meeting to define “strategy” to follow in the coming days, is scheduled for Sunday. Click here to view full story…
A personal blog on what’s behind the proposed new airport at Notre Dame des Landes.
November 17, 2012
This is a blog explaining many of the issues behind the development of a new airport at Nantes, by an Englishman living in France – working as a translator. He sets out some interesting facts relating to the values of land, the deal done with Vinci, the pressure to move the existing airport to a new site including spurious arguments about safety, the rising price of oil as forecast by no less a body than the IMF, and the misguided use of large amounts of public funds that could be better spent elsewhere. On the day when thousand of brave French people will attempt to win back some of the land in the “Zone at defendre” at Notre Dame des Landes, this background is interesting. Click here to view full story…
Notre Dame des Landes. The ZAD. One person’s account of what is going on and why.
November 14, 2012 This is a long, personal account of what is going on at Notre Dame des Landes, by someone there with the anti-capitalists who are fighting the police and the authorities to defend the site. Vinci want to start work on the new airport and the roads for it by the end of November. The activists hope to take back some land on 17th November. The anti capitalists have moved in to fight with the local people and local farmers who have had their land expropriated for the airport work. This account is long, but makes a fascinating read, revealing the passion and determination of those fighting this development – which they see as hugely socially and environmentally harmful. Click here to view full story…
Airport protesters at Notre Dame des Landes, at Nantes, are preparing for a huge push to re-occupy land on 17th November
November 13, 2012
Around 2,000 hectares of mostly farmland at Notre Dame des Landes in rural western France are set to be the stage for what is likely to be a violent confrontation on Saturday 17th November, when anti-airport activists square up to riot police. Protesters, battling plans to build a new airport near Nantes have organised a mass “re-occupation” rally when they will attempt to reconquer part of the proposed site after scores of them began being unceremoniously evicted by police last month. Although their campaign dates back many years, it has taken an ugly turn in recent weeks, with riot police using tear gas to break up camps of protesters who responded in kind by throwing Molotov cocktails and setting up burning road blocks. By evicting people to silence the dissent, the government has succeeded in making the situation worse. Opponents of the airport do not believe the economic justifications being made for it, and are angry about the harm that will be done to the eco-systems of the local wetlands and the rise in pollution that a new airport would bring. There are also farmers who are furious after having had their land expropriated to make way for the airport and a proposed new road system. Much of the opposition’s anger is directed towards Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who as former mayor of Nantes was a key supporter of the project, and the company Vinci, who will operate the new airport. Click here to view full story…
Le bocage nantais entre en guérilla à Notre-Dame-des-Landes
18.11.2012 Le doux bocage nantais est entré en guérilla. Face à face, deux camps se préparent à un combat de longue haleine qui pourrait tourner à la véritable guerre de tranchées. D’un côté, le gouvernement, Jean-Marc Ayrault en tête, premier ministre, ancien maire de Nantes, promoteur local de la nouvelle infrastructure depuis de longues années, et Aéroport du Grand-Ouest (AGO), filiale à 85 % de Vinci Airports, exploitant du futur aéroport qui doit accueillir ses premiers vols fin 2017. De l’autre, une alliance détonante d’opposants au projet : des agriculteurs, des élus, des riverains promis ou non à l’expropriation qui doit permettre la construction de l’aéroport et des dessertes routières sur 1 650 hectares. Mais aussi des squatters, installés depuis deux ou trois ans dans plusieurs maisons vidées de leurs occupants et des “écoguerriers”, arrivés récemment, militants rompus aux luttes “contre le système”, ou “touristes”, souvent jeunes, comme ces Australiennes ou cette Italienne croisées dans les chemins du bocage nantais. (Le Monde. http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2012/11/08/le-bocage-nantais-entre-en-guerilla-a-notre-dame-des-landes_1787742_3244.html
A Notre-Dame-des-Landes, la bataille continue
17.10.2012 Filiale du groupe Vinci, la société Aéroport du Grand Ouest (AGO), porteuse du projet, promet de “porter plainte en cas de nouvelle occupation des espaces libérés”. “On goûte avec désagrément le changement tant vanté par François Hollande et mis en musique par Jean-Marc Ayrault, premier ministre défendant un dossier qu’il portait déjà en tant que député-maire de Nantes, raille Sylvain Fresneau, agriculteur depuis vingt-huit ans. Mais on ne lâchera pas. On est chez nous ici, les forces de l’ordre non. Sitôt leur départ, on reprendra possession des lieux.” (Le Monde. http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2012/10/17/a-notre-dame-des-landes-la-bataille-continue_1776642_3244.html
Update on the evictions and demolitions at Notre-Dame des Landes
Date added: October 25, 2012
Some 150 to 200 anti-capitalist protesters – some from other parts of France and of Europe – continue to try to delay and interfere with preparations for the start of work on the new Nantes airport at Notre-Dame des Landes. Some seven people have been arrested. They accuse the State of being the aggressors against them. Some said they had only thrown corn cobs and carrots at the police. About 10 houses have been pulled down. According to the prefecture, these squatter evictions are justified due to the imminence of the preparatory work for future road access to the airport, which should start in January. The work on the airport itself should begin in 2014 for commissioning in 2017. Click here to view full story…
18.10.2012 There is a short video clip, in French unfortunately, about the protests and others coming from other areas to join the opposition to the demolitions. http://pays-de-la-loire.france3.fr/2012/10/18/nddl-les-opposants-poursuivent-la-lutte-anti-aeroport-122409.html
NDDL / Shortage of housing, ecological crisis … : Yet the state destoyed the habitablehouses in the bocage of Notre-Dame-des-Landes!
17.10.2012 La Coordination des Opposants au projet d’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes (45 associations, partis politiques, syndicats et collectifs) est absolument révoltée et scandalisée par ce qui se passe actuellement sur le site prévu pour construire l’aéroport inutile dit “du grand Ouest” porté par l’ex-maire de Nantes aujourd’hui Premier Ministre. Indignation légitime, devant le passage en force que constituent les expulsions des habitants de la ZAD qui maintenaient une vie riche en échanges et solidarité (à défaut de capitaux) sur ce secteur. Rien ne peut justifier cette urgence à vider la zone : il n’y a pas de travaux prévu sur ces lieux avant des mois. Whole article in French at http://amitie-entre-les-peuples.org/spip.php?article2782
Operations forces, many who have carried out the expulsion of some 150 squatters Tuesday anti-airport around Notre-Dame-des-Landes continues today.
Many protesters evicted from homes to be demolished for future Nantes airport. Eleven homes being destroyed.
October 16, 2012
A major evacuation operation by security forces of houses squatted by opponents of the proposed airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, north of Nantes took place on Tuesday morning. Eleven houses and land that had been occupied land on the site of the future airport were evacuated without incident by more than 500 gendarmes. At the first home some 150 protesters, some of whom are locals and some anti-globalisation activists, had gathered. Homes that have been evacuated are now subject to enhanced surveillance before being demolished “in the coming days.” The airport developers want preparatory work for road improvements serving this “inter airport” between Nantes and Rennes to begin by the end of the year. Work on the airport itself must begin in 2014 for commissioning in 2017. The airport plans have been approved by the State and local socialist party, but the new airport’s usefulness is disputed, on economic grounds as well as its environmental impact. Click here to view full story…
Nantes. Projet d’aéroport: le préjudice moral évoqué devant la justice
(Airport Project – moral compensation discussed in court)
Imperfect translation below. Original French
How much is the value of the houses, buildings and business facilities for farmers affected by the airport project Notre-Dame-des-Landes? The issue was discussed yesterday by the tribunal de grande instance de Nantes, on the occasion of a hearing to determine the compensation to be paid to farmers, subject to expropriation.
Inevitable battles of figures. Estimates of goods easily differ by €100,000, depending on whether they come from the owners whose property is threatened, or from the Aéroport du grand ouest (AGO), a subsidiary of Vinci, promoter of the project.
Above all, the lawyers of the campaign against NDDL have called for recognition of non-pecuniary damage suffered by all farmers. The judgment will be delivered on 24 October.
No doubt it will be dissected by construction giants, communities and all major project developers. Because if they win, the notion of moral (non-pecuniary) damages can be claimed at the end of each expropriation proceedings initiated on the national territory. “No French court has yet recognized these damages in this type of case , according to Stephen Boittin, one of the lawyers for the operators. The Nantes court has a tremendous opportunity to advance justice. ‘
The approach is also a tactic. The purpose is to obtain a legal judgement about the recognition of the moral prejudice. And also to gain time. As long as all avenues are not exhausted, there cannot be any evictions. See also cost of compensation (in French).
Massive “Save The Planet” and “STOP” human frescoes by Nantes protesters against “projets inutiles”
July 9, 2012 The airport campaigners at Nantes have produced a spectacular visual image, created by hundreds of people in a green field. Their message, in English this time, to get to a wider audience than only France, reads “Save The Planet” and “STOP!” They are opposing not only the unnecessary and highly damaging airport planned for Notre Dame des Landes, but have joined with other campaigners from other parts of Europe opposing other bits of, what they call “projets inutiles” (useless projects), which they describe as “white elephants”. Some of these are HS2 in England; a rail line in Stuttgart; and the Lyon-Turin TGV in Italy. Susan George, attending the protest, said these bits of infrastructure were damaging and costly for communities, and there are better things to do. Click here to view full story…
Anti airport campaign at Notre Dame des Landes protests against inadequate public inquiries
June 22, 2012 Several public inquiries are to be held into the proposed airport at Notre Dame des Landes, at Nantes in western France. These have been hastily announced, to start on 21st June with insufficient notice. They inquiries are only due to last for 4 weeks, and the timing coincides with a busy farming time of year, and the holiday season. Opponents are protesting that the inquiries should be held in September, and should last for 8 weeks in order to fully take account of voluminous evidence papers. Opponents tried to prevent the commissioners entering the town hall, and there were scuffles, use of police force and tear gas, and an arrest. The protester are continuing to try and get the inquiries delayed. Click here to view full story…
Nantes airport building plans, set back by 2 years by the hunger strike
May 14, 2012 The hunger strike at Nantes, against the Projet d’ aéroport du Grand Ouest, Notre-Dame-des-Landes, ended last week. Now the legal procedures continue, against compulsory purchase of land from farmers and others living in the site, some 30 km north of Nantes, where the airport would be sited and where work would have soon started. The Mayor of Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, had been a keen supporter of the airport for years. He is still very much in favour of it. There is bitterness that he did not once visit the hunger strike over its 28 days, until pressure was put on him by Francoise Hollande’s office to meet one of the campaign. The planned airport would be the main airport for Western France and have up to 9 million passengers per year eventually (current airport has 3 million passengers). Click here to view full story…
After 28 days the Nantes hunger strike ends, with concession from authorities to reconsider land expropriations
May 9, 2012
After 28 days of hunger strike, which Michel Tarin endured to the end, and 5 others fasted for slightly shorter periods, the strike has ended. At last there have been concessions from the local authorities that the compulsory purchase of land owned by farmers and other local residents will be suspended for the time being. The expropriations will not now go ahead until the outcome of several legal proceedings that have been filed against the proposed airport. It is likely that these legal challenges will take up to two years, giving the campaigners two more years in which to continue their opposition. The hunger strikers ended their fast with bowls of soup, and though exhausted, they are delighted with the result. Drinking their soup together, surrounded by a huge an efficient network of support, the hunger strikers emphasized the quality of support they received each day and the climate of affection and solidarity that has buoyed them up during their ordeal. Click here to view full story…
May 8th. The 28th day of the Nantes airport hunger strike – 5 hunger strikers are still continuing.
May 7th, 2012
There are now 5 hunger strikers. Michel (aged 64) is on his 28th day of hunger strike, and one person has recently had to give up, on health grounds
Details each day and updates on the ACIPA website
On 3rd May the campaigners against the proposed airport outside Nantes in South West France occupied the centre of Nantes with a convoy of tractors and 1,000 people – and 15 young cows. They are supporting the peasant farmers whose land would be compulsorily purchased for the new airport, and who have nearly completed their 4th week of a hunger strike. They are relieved that Hollande has won the Presidency. The campaigners had earlier forced Hollande, who has supported Nantes Airport, to agree it will not go ahead until all the legal cases have been heard. Sarkozy had just said the area is just a wasteland without the airport! The protesters see that as an insult to the beautiful farming area and especially to the farmers on hunger strike. The 5 hunger strikers are getting weaker, and finding the exhaustion more difficult. They are brave people. Click here to view full story…
23rd day of the Nantes airport hunger strike, and protest demonstration of around 1,000 in the town. 6 hunger strikers
May 3, 2012
There are now 6 hunger strikers. Michel is on his 23rd day
The campaigners against the proposed airport outside Nantes in South West France have today occupied the centre of Nantes with a convoy of tractors and 1,000 people – and 15 young cows. They are supporting the peasant farmers who have moved into their 4th week of a hunger strike and are making their voices heard before Sunday’s Presidential Election. Already the campaigners have forced Hollande, who has supported Nantes Airport, to agree it will not go ahead until all the legal cases have been heard but Sarkozy, when questioned, said the area is just a wasteland without the airport! That is an insult to the beautiful farming area and especially to the farmers on hunger strike. Click here to view full story…
Nantes: 20th day of the hunger strike against the airport plan, 4 strikers.
April 25, 2012 On the 15th day of the Nantes airport hunger strike, one of the farmers has lost 11 kilos and the other 12 kilos. They are determined to continue, and have been joined by two other hunger strikers. They have also been visited by José Bové, the famous campaigner and now an MEP, who will keep them company overnight. He says the presidential contenders, Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, must end their silence on the airport protest now the hunger strike is entering its 3rd week. They can no longer ignore it and they need to find a way to suspend the compulsory purchase of land and resume talks. Bové says the politicians have all the means they need to find a way out without losing face. Click here to view full story…
Nantes: 15th day of the hunger strike against the airport plan, 2 more strikers, support from José Bové
April 25, 2012 On the 15th day of the Nantes airport hunger strike, one of the farmers has lost 11 kilos and the other 12 kilos. They are determined to continue, and have been joined by two other hunger strikers. They have also been visited by José Bové, the famous campaigner and now an MEP, who will keep them company overnight. He says the presidential contenders, Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, must end their silence on the airport protest now the hunger strike is entering its 3rd week. They can no longer ignore it and they need to find a way to suspend the compulsory purchase of land and resume talks. Bové says the politicians have all the means they need to find a way out without losing face. Click here to view full story…
Nantes airport protest: Faut-il encore construire des aéroports ?
April 18, 2012 Several Europe Ecologie members have written on why they are opposing a new airport at Nantes, when the existing airport is not full. They argue against it on climate grounds, and on economic and social grounds. They say “If they persist, it will be in defiance of warnings from climatologists and economists, in addition to the contempt of the citizens. If, instead, they decide to abandon it, preferring to invest in training, colleges and high schools, or public transport, then we will highlight their political courage.” Click here to view full story…
A third hunger striker has joined the two local farmers opposing Nantes airport
April 17, 2012 At Nantes, the two local farmers have completed 7 days of hunger strikes, and say they are in good health. They have been joined by a local left wing politician, so there are now three of them. There is a lot of local support for these farmers who are putting their health at risk to save their land and their employment. They say the maga airport project is a devourer of agricultural land and public money, for the most great advantage of VINCI (the company building the airport) shareholders. This project goes against the current social issues and current ecological good of the area. Click here to view full story…
Two local farmers from Nantes on hunger strike and supporting occupation in the town, against the airport
April 12, 2012 The campaigners against the proposed new NantesAirport just outside the city at Notre-Dames-des-Landes have entered Nantes with sheep and tractors and “plan to stay a while” ! They are supporting two peasant farmers who have gone on hunger strike because they have had papers served for the compulsory purchase their land to make way for the airport. What is particularly dreadful about this is the fact that the authorities who want to build the airport are still facing legal challenges from the campaigners. If these legal challenges are successful, the airport make be stopped but peasant farmers will have lost their land and their livelihood. Click here to view full story…
NOTRE DAME DES LANDES : GRÈVE DE LA FAIM DE 2 PAYSANS
Grève de la faim
Nantes. Plusieurs milliers de personnes contre l’aéroport
24 mars 2012
Plusieurs milliers de personnes – entre 3.000 et 10.000 selon les sources – ont manifesté ce samedi après-midi à Nantes contre le projet de nouvel aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes, sous haute surveillance policière, de crainte de débordements.
Devant une reconstitution en terre, arbres et végétaux d’un “coin de bocage”, avec vaches et chevaux, les organisateurs de toutes obédiences, autant agriculteurs qu’écologistes ou anarchistes, ont parlé sur une même tribune, pour demander l’arrêt du projet d’aéroport et de tous les “grands projets inutiles”.
Nantes. Manifestation anti-aéroport sous haute surveillance [vidéos]
Trois cortèges de militants, opposés à l’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes, se sont retrouvés ce samedi midi à Nantes, où ils ont manifesté dans le centre-ville, sous haute surveillance policière. Des incidents ont eu lieu en fin de journée, après la manifestation.
Après s’être regroupés au bout du cours des Cinquante Otages, les trois cortèges, composés de plusieurs centaines de tracteurs, ont commencé à défiler vers 13 h 30. Selon les organisateurs, ce sont précisément 237 tracteurs ont investi la rue de Strasbourg.
[There are 3 video clips].
Des centaines de tracteurs dans le centre de Nantes
Saturday 24th March: Tens of Thousands expected at Nationwide Protests against Airport Expansion in Germany
March 22, 2012 Same Day: Major demonstration in Nantes in SW France
UK airport campaigners have sent messages of support to their fellow campaigners in Germany and France who will be staging major demonstrations against airport expansion on Saturday 24th March. In Germany tens of thousands of people are expected to turn out in at least five cities. In Frankfurt as many as 20,000 people could occupy the terminal. And, in Munich the campaigners against the proposed 3rd runway will hold as picnic in the terminal. In Nantes the demonstrators will occupy the centre of the city. There will also be protests in Berlin, Cologne and Leipzig. This gives the lie to the impression always given by the UK aviation industry that airports in Europe will continue to expand. They will not do so without immense and powerful opposition. Click here to view full story…
Large demonstration in Paris against building of airport at Nantes
Date added: November 14, 2011
Thousands of demonstrators descended on Paris on Saturday, arriving there from the Nantes area by tractor or bicycle. They were protesting about the building of a new, huge, airport outside Nantes at Notre Dame des Landes. There is already Nantes Atlantique airport near Nantes. It plans go ahead, work will start in 2014 and it may be finished in 2017. Campaigners have commissioned an economic study by CE Delft, which shows there would be little economic benefit. Click here to view full story…
French campaigners against a huge new airport at Nantes to hold rally for cycles and tractors in Paris on 12th November
The campaigners against the building of a new airport outside Nantes in South
West France will be travelling by bicycle and tractor to Paris – leaving Nantes
on 6th November and arriving in Paris on 12th November where there will be a big
Campaigners from other countries are invited to join them on the cycle ride or
for the rally in Paris. Details in French at http://tractovelo-ndl-2011.blogspot.com/
This is the biggest campaign against airport expansion in Europe. It is possible
that the campaigners can win. John Stewart, who lead the campaign against at third runway at Heathrow said: “We hope that campaigners from all over Europe can join them for the rally in Paris. Let’s make this an international rally against airport expansion. We
stopped a new runway at Heathrow. If we can stop a new airport in France as well,
it will make it more and more difficult for the aviation industry to expand anywhere
in Europe. Join us!” http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/news/detail.php?art_id=4576
Nantes International Airport – not yet built
A new airport – to be called Nantes International – has been given permission,
and work is due to start on it in 2012, for completion in 2015. In June 2008, several campaigners from the UK were asked to go to meet the campaigners fighting plans for a new two-runway airport to be built outside Nantes in South West France (Nantes International !) and to speak at their rally. Five of the Nantes campaigners came to the Heathrow Rally on May 31st.
Nantes campaigners set off by bike and tractor on 400km journey to get to Paris by 12th November 2011
CE Delft economic study shows cost of building a new Nantes airport would exceed its benefits
Date added: October 28, 2011
Campaigners fighting the building of a new airport at Nantes (France) have commissioned a report by CE Delft, looking into the economics of building the airport, and whether there would be a financial benefit. This finds that, when correcting for the extremely high valuation of time and taking oil price projections and inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS into account, the costs of the new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes exceed the benefits. Click here to view full story…