Nantes plans to build a new airport – could it become the French Heathrow?

The French Heathrow? 

The Human Aeroplane – with the defiant message:  “We will win”.
John Stewart reports from his recent visit to the Nantes campaign, after returned
from visting them in South West France.  4,500 people demonstrated against plans
for a new airport on Sunday 12th July and 14,000 over 2 days.
This could become the ‘French Heathrow’. The site of a victory as iconic as the
struggle against the third runway.
Nantes already has an airport, but wants to build a huge new one instead, on
beautiful countryside.

The campaign has brought together a vibrant coalition of local residents, environmentalists,
sympathetic politicians and direct action activists who have set up the
ZAD camp in the area. It is a community-driven campaign protecting the homes and livelihood
and land of small-holders whose families have farmed on the agricultural land
for generations.

Over the past decade the campaign has grown in strength and radicalism. Already
the local community has staged direct action protests. They are now supported
by a camp of activists from all over Europe. On Sunday they all came together
for what, each year, has become one of Europe’s biggest annual protests. 4,500
people formed the human aeroplane, pictured above, with the defiant message that
“we will win”. Amongst those joining them for the weekend protest was both the
radical activist José Bové and the Green Partycandidate in next year’s presidential

The campaigners have succeeded in making their fight a national issue. Hardly
surprising as it has become the biggest airport campaign in Europe. If the Greens
get enough votes in the Presidential Election they will insist that the dropping
of the new airport will be a key condition in any deal they may do with the socialists.

Nantes already has an airport. The campaigners argue that, just a few hours by
the fast TGV from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, the proposed airport – Nantes
International – is little more than an exercise in ego-building by the regional
politicians in the ruling socialist party. The campaigners have commissioned a
report from the respected Dutch economic consultancy, CE Delft, to prove that
the airport is unnecessary.

It is an inspiring fight. What the campaigners need is support from activists
across Europe. Go down to the camp. And, in a few months, they may be organizing
an event, possibly in Paris, where supporters will be asked to come from all over
Europe. Our chance to deal another devastating blow to airport building in Europe.


The Aéroport du Grand Ouest is a planned new airport, to be situated 30 km (20 mi) to the north-west of
French city of Nantes in the commune of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. It is intended that the new airport will replace Nantes Atlantique Airport as the airport for Nantes, but also serve as an international gateway for western

The €580 million project was approved in February 2008, with construction expected
to start in 2014 and an opening date in 2017 [2]. Initially the airport will have a capacity of four million passengers a year,
increasing to nine million by 2050. This compares with the current capacity at
Nantes Atlantique of three million passengers a year, a capacity that it is claimed
cannot be increased because of the proximity of the airport to the city centre
(a distance of only 8 km (5 mi)).[1]

The new airport will have two runways, and will be linked to the French motorway and rail networks.[1]

The airport has been met with strong opposition, notably led by The Greens and Jean-Philippe Magnen, even though their Socialist allies support it.

There is more information about Nantes and its airport campaign at

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 (2017?).
and also

Plane Stupid takes a visit to the ZAD (Zone À  Défendre) at Nantes  Notre Dame
des Landes