France Abandons Plans for New Airport in Western France
Plans to build the €580 million ($170 million) Notre-Dames-Des-Landes airport were halted by activists who refused an order to leave by French Prime Minister Édouardo Philippe.
For decades, hundreds of protesters who call themselves ZADists, or Zone of Defense, have claimed that the project was a symbol of exploitative globalization, citing that it was too costly, and most importantly, environmentally unfriendly.
Supporters of the proposed airport, which is designed to handle 4 million passengers annually, said that it would aid economic development in the Loire-Atlantique region. Additionally, congestion within the existing airport poses a security risk.
President Emmanuel Macron was particularly affected by this argument, having championed the fight against climate change since his election with promises to “make our planet great again” and challenging U.S. President Donald Trump on global warming.
After years of protests and discussion, the French government announced today that it has abandoned plans for the new airport. Supporters and powerbrokers in the region have criticized the decision, stating that the government has given way to violence and blackmail while destroying the hope of better connecting “their territories with the rest of Europe and reduce dependence on access via Paris.”
However, despite this victory, the ZADists have refused to leave their makeshift settlements on the construction site of the airport. The group said there will be a victory celebration on Feb. 10 and will clear the main road of obstacles defending their zone.
Philippe issued an order to leave, stating that “we will put an end to this lawless zone” and at 9:35AM French local time, additional riot police and gendarmes were sent to the region to remove the protesters.