New airport to be constructed in one of the last wetlands of France

Published by Marie-Amélie Brun on

30th of June, 2016

This Sunday in Brittany, France, another important referendum was organised in relation to the construction of an airport. The construction of this airport has been the subject of opposition and controversy since 1970.

The French government and construction groups proposed building this airport for decades without success. After being abandoned in 1970 for economic reasons, the debate resurfaced in 2003 and since then it has been one of the biggest subjects of mobilisation in France. Famous environmentalist such as Naomie Klein, Pierre Rabhi and Jean Jouzel have expressed their discord with this project.

Opponents of the project, mostly farmers, have created a ZAD (“Zone à défendre” in French, or “Region to protect” in English) and have occupied the site, creating an autonomous village.

To resolve the conflict that lasted for numerous years, President François Hollande decided to organised a referendum in the region. It was the first time that this kind of civil consultation was organised. As Brexit this referendum only has a consultative value, however Prime Minister Manuel Valls had decided to follow public opinion whatever the results was.

Unfortunately the results of the referendum returned a ‘YES’ to the airport, and the construction should start in Autumn 2016. The French Green Party criticised the fact that only the region was consulted, as opposed to the majority of France which  is against the project.

The region in which the airport will be situated is a very rich in terms of agricultural, it is home to a great range of biodiversity and one of the last wetlands of France. During a study carried out by amateurs and scientists, five protected species have been found on the land :

Pulicaria vulgaris


Exaculum pusillum

Exaculum pusillum



Eurasian water shrew

Eurasian water shrew

Triturus blasii

Triturus blasii

Only a few months after affirming their commitment to the planet and its well-being at the UN Paris Climate Summit, Jose Bove, from Europe Ecology – The Greens party, underlined the contradiction between the COP21 and the construction of a new airport in France where there are already 140 airports, which is more than Germany and Great Britain combined.

notre dame des landes manif

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Marie-Amélie Brun

Marie-Amélie is a contributor to the Green News. She is currently completing a Masters in International Cooperation and Multilingual Communication at the University Grenoble Alpes.