• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
French public to decide on much-hated airport plan
Men work on a banner which translate as "No to Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport". Photo: AFP

French public to decide on much-hated airport plan

The Local · 12 Feb 2016, 08:40

Published: 12 Feb 2016 08:40 GMT+01:00

The planned airport has divided residents of western France for decades.
 
Some say the airport will be a valuable gateway to the west, and others argue that it would be a devastating end to 1,650 hectares of wetland. 
 
On Thursday night, President Hollande decided that, after years of protests, it was time to let the members of the public decide for themselves in a local referendum.
 
While he confirmed the vote would be held before October, it remains unclear exactly which regions in western France will be allowed to participate. 
 
All that is for sure is that, in accordance with French law, the referendum needs at least a 50 percent turnout from the public for the final decision to be valid. 
 
The map above shows the current Nantes Airport, marked as 1, and the proposed new airport, number 2. Photo: Google maps
 
While a referendum may sound like the quickest way to decide whether the €580 million ($747 million) project should go ahead, support was hard to find among either side of those involved in the fight. 
 
Françoise Verchère, who heads one of the main anti-airport groups, thinks people will use the vote for all the wrong reasons. 
 
"They might use the referendum to vote against the government or against the zadistes," he said, referring to the eco-activists living at the site in protest. 
 
"It absolutely won't be a vote about the airport."
 
Those fighting for the airport, such as François de La Tullaye of the Des Ailes pour l’Ouest group, were also against the idea. 
 
"If the result was in favour of building the airport, the opponents would be the first to make multiple appeals, as they usually do," he told Europe 1
Story continues below…
 
Hollande's announcement came on the same day he reshuffled his government, switching a number of ministers and hiring former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as the new foreign minister. 
 
The move was labeled as "pointless" by French political analyst Bruno Cautres, who told The Local that the attempt to gather fresh political momentum with just 15 months left in office was too little, too late
 
 
Does France really need a new airport hub in the west?

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France faces same big questions after latest attack
Photo: AFP

The latest terror attack has left France facing similar questions to those it has tackled numerous times since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January last year. So how will France react?

Muslim leaders denounce attack on French church
CFCM President Anouar Kbibech in front of the Grande Mosque in Paris, June 2015. Photo: AFP

France's Muslim leaders have denounced Tuesday's apparent terror attack at a church, and called for the country's Muslims to band together in support.

French workers 'pay the most taxes in Europe'
Photo: AFP

From tomorrow the French will be the only workers in Europe still handing over money to the taxman.

Church mourns loss of slain 86-year-old French priest
Photo: AFP

Father Jacques Hamel could have retired at 75 but believed he could still be of service so carried on.

What we know about the attack on the French church
Photo: AFP

A priest was killed after armed men took over a church in northern France, before they too were killed by police. Here is what we know.

A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Police officers near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on November 13th, 2015. Photo: AFP

Here is a recap of major assaults and foiled attempts since the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January 2015.

Isis claims priest's killing as Hollande vows all-out war
Photo: AFP

Terror group Isis has said its soldiers were behind the killing of a French priest at his church on Tuesday as President François Hollande vows to wage war against them "by every means".

France has long feared terror would strike its churches
Notre Dame is one place of worship that soldiers are asked to protect. Photo: AFP

France's long-standing fears that its churches would be targeted by terrorists were realized on Tuesday. But can the government do anything to protect them?

BREAKING
Priest slain in 'terror attack' on church in northern France
Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Two men armed with knives killed a priest after taking several people hostage at a French church, before they were shot dead by police.

One dead after violent clashes in Calais migrant camp
The "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

An Ethiopian has died after he was stabbed in the chest during clashes at the Calais migrant camp.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
2,769
jobs available