ZAD Update: “Let’s Bury the Notre Dame Des Landes Project for Good!”

6 Aug

For background on this story, check out Rurals Rebels and Useless Airports: La ZAD – Europe’s Largest Postcapitalist Land Occupation, also in print in the Brigid 2013 edition of the Earth First! Journal

from ZAD: France Anti-airport Struggle News


We have seen that the momentum behind the AGO/Vinci and government project has seriously slowed down on the ground over the last month or so. Strengthened by progress made over the last few months, ACIPA and coordinated bodies of opponents plan to put the pressure on decision makers by organizing the now traditional Summer festival this year on an unrivaled scale. The two bodies above invite support committees to disseminate the information available as widely as possible and mobilize them for the NDL 2013 gathering just as they did the day after the police invasion of 16 October at the ZAD (ZAD means “area to be defended” [Zone À Défendre] to opponents but “development area” to developers). Our success will come from the extraordinary and innovative ground swell movement they have set into motion.

The time has come – now – to wrest victory! It can be done. The project promoters have pig-headedly gone off-track and found themselves in a major political setback, both for reasons relating to their insistent ZAD demands (expulsions, house destruction, aggressive police behavior, etc.) and for their repeated lies and their displayed contempt for the conclusions of the three committees, especially those of the Scientific Committee!

The weekend of 3 and 4 August will be festive and militant.

Militant: To further the continuity of action of our gatherings of previous summers, we plan to give thought to issues of great importance to us as they are linked to the Notre Dame des Landes airport project. We will get together for numerous open discussions on :

– Major Useless and Imposed Projects nation-wide and further afield,

– food-growing land,

– ecological and energy Transition,

– urbanization, town planning, transport and infrastructures

– water and biodiversity, etc.

Thought with a strong potential for action – to innovate, to draw up alternatives, etc.

Festive: after the work groups representing elected regional / local representatives, pilots, surveyors, members of the legal profession and naturalists, it will be the turn of musical artists to entertain us as part of the battle of Notre Dame des Landes. More than 30 groups playing all kinds of music will participate in the Summer 2013 event. Children will not be forgotten: playspaces will be laid out for them and children’s shows will be put on.

One week after the 3rd European Forum against Major Useless and Imposed Projects whose venue is at Stuttgart, The Notre Dame des Landes 2013 gathering will be THE inescapable gathering of the Summer for the defense of threatened land and farming jobs, for better use of taxpayers’ money and to halt projects as useless as they are destructive, here as elsewhere!

But inescapable also as a means of inventing and implementing together those alternatives that are indispensable: in favor of energy transition, tackling climate change and a return to solid civic rights that have been confiscated from us by the governing political parties.


ACIPA and opponents Coordination network June 2013

At what stage is the project?

16 October 2012 was the day the government tried to clear the airport project area of what they called “illegal” inhabitants but who were in fact committing no offense. Operation Caesar, planned to last 36 hours, was unable to overcome a groundswell of resistance that gained in momentum to culminate in the grand re-occupation of the land before the eyes of a gathering of 40,000 people on 17 November 2012 :

– Numerous committees have been formed across France to support the struggle

– Large numbers of people moved into the area at the height of winter

– Mid January 2013, Bellevue farm was saved from destruction by the COPAIN (“Committee of Professional Farming Associations against the airport project” but “copain” in French also means “friend”) and cultivated once more.

– Mid-April marked the Séme (Sowing) operation of the ZAD when permanent facilities, mainly smallholdings, were installed.

– 11 May, almost 40,000 people formed a human chain around the area to protect it by burying the project into oblivion!

Opponents have also made good progress in the area of current legal and administrative proceedings :

– Late January 2013: the supreme court of appeal rejected the request made by AGO/Vinci to accelerate a decision from the appeal court following the failed expulsion ruling with the result that the expulsion of inhabitants and the farming community involved was postponed.

– 17 March 2013: the European Petitions Commission took cognizance of the NDL file and decided to keep the 2 petitions by ACIPA/CéDpa and FNE/Bretagne Vivante open. An inquiry commission could travel to Nantes Atlantique Airport and Notre Dame des Landes to study the situation…

– Late March 2013: the 3 commissions issued their reports:

– The so-called “dialogue” commission validates the precision of our arguments and alternative solutions proposals put forward since the public debate of 2003: a new PEB (noise exposure plan) study will be undertaken, an economic study on the optimization of Nantes Atlantique Airport …

– The agricultural commission confirms our figures in respect of the wastage of farming land and re-assures the farming community under threat of expulsion: they can continue to farm their land and live decently at least until the end of the year!

– The scientific expertise commission does not validate the AGO/Vinci and government proposals put forward within the framework of the “Water Law” public inquiry: the whole environment compensations file has to be reviewed!

The immediate effect of all this is to halt preventive archaeological excavations, halt expulsions, halt demolition of buildings and proceed with the withdrawal of the police force from the area. Complementary environmental inquires shall be undertaken.

Strengthened by the support we have received, we are monitoring the progress of the file calmly and determinedly, especially in respect of European instances, which could apply pressure on French decision makers. A successful gathering will quite naturally increase the pressure.


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