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French gov’t abandons plans to build new airport in the west

French gov’t abandons plans to build new airport in the west

Posted January. 19, 2018 08:53,   

Updated January. 19, 2018 09:27

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French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Wednesday that the government has decided against building an airport in West Notre-Dame de Landes. It was the moment when 50 protesters, who opposed to the airport project by occupying the land without permission since 2009, nullified the project that the French government has worked on for a half century.

When the French prime minister announced the government's official decision to abandon the airport project on Wednesday, Nantes Mayor Johanna Roland strongly opposed against the decision, by saying that it is “a denial of democracy.” The city of Nantes was furious, saying that the court already sentenced that the construction of the new airport does not have any legal flaw, and the residents occupying the land must leave immediately, and 55 percent of Nantes citizens agreed to the building of the new airport at a local vote conducted in 2016. Even at a public opinion poll conducted on Jan. 5 this year, 56 percent of the French people said that it is necessary to use force to end the occupation without permission. Nevertheless, the French government has been swayed by a small number of protesters, and finally gave up the airport construction project.

It is common in France that whenever its government proceeds with new development projects, such as new and renewable energy facilities, waste landfill facilities, expansion of traffic infrastructure, and construction of various commercial facilities, those with discontent about the society around the area crowd in and impede with the projects.

According to an analysis by the French government, if a development project takes place, opposing power forms in three steps. Local residents, who suffer damage because of development projects, become the first to oppose to it. This is the step in which local residents form a network. When it moves onto Step Two, during the time when the government confirm‎s development projects and starts the construction, protesters from the outside join in. Local residents provide them with accommodations and protesters ask for an unyielding conversation. In Step Three, ecologists, anarchists, liberalists, anti-globalization activists and even animal liberation activists crowd in and paralyze the site.

The purpose and goal of these protesters, who are discontent about the society, is to overthrow the society. While announcing the give-up on the building of the new airport, the French prime minister warned by saying, “Those who are occupying the land must leave before spring ends. If not, the police will begin working on deportation.” But the protesters are arguing that they must preserve this site as a historical site to commemorate their victory.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that the government will increase the number of Runways for Nantes Atlantique Airport and redevelop other airports in nearby areas, but a question has risen about if Atlantique Airport, which has scale of accommodation of 4 million people, will be able to handle more people coming to the airport, whose users are expected to increase up to 9 million in 2040.



Jung-Min Dong ditto@donga.com