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Poitiers to Limoges: The French autoroute projects set to be scrapped

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Poitiers to Limoges: The French autoroute projects set to be scrapped
The French Transport Minister has indicated that various motorway construction projects could be scrapped in a bid to respect national climate commitments (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

The French Transport Minister said on Tuesday that the government would take "courageous decisions" to halt motorway construction projects in a bid to tackle the climate emergency. So which road projects could be tossed out?

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French Transport Minister Clément Beaune said on Tuesday that "many" planned motorway construction projects would be scrapped, following a bitter public dispute over the proposed A69 road linking Toulouse and Castres. 

Environmentalists say that the government should focus on building sustainable transport infrastructure rather than roads, which contribute to biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions. It appears that the government is beginning to take notice. 

"When dealing with the ecological crisis, we cannot do like before," Beaune told France Inter, saying this would mean, "building more train lines and less roads."

READ MORE Why the new A69 autoroute in south-west France is causing such a row

Beaune indicated that projects that have not yet got underway are more likely to be scrapped and that for those projects that have already begun, the focus will be on reducing their environmental impact. But as recently as April, he also suggested that even a dozen or so ongoing projects were under review. 

So which roads are most likely never to see the light of day?

Poitiers-Limoges

The planned A147 road connecting Poitiers and Limoges was set to cost nearly €1 billion but looks unlikely to ever materialise. The distance between the two towns is barely 100km, though it currently takes nearly two hours to make the journey by road. But back in May, Beaune indicated that he thought the proposed new motorway was a "bad project". 

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The Rouen bypass 

A proposed bypass that would connect the A28 north of Rouen to the A13 in the south, while avoiding built-up urban areas to the east, has been contested since the early 1970s. Officials are currently looking for a concessionaire to take on the project by the end of 2025 but there is huge public opposition both from residents of the city and local and regional elected representatives.

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Rouen-Orléans

The A154 road would link Rouen and Orléans by connecting existing sections of motorway and building bypasses at Chartres and Dreux. But the project has been stalled for years, with no-one stepping up to take the concession. Environmentalists are hoping that this remains the case because 90 hectares of forest would need to be felled to complete this project. 

Machilly-Thonon-les-Bains 

The proposed A412 linking the Savoyard towns of Machilly and Thonon-les-Bains has been the subject of controversy for decades. Local environmental groups have described the project as "environmental heresy" and have vowed to continue filing legal complaints. In June Beaune insisted that construction would go ahead, but his latest speech suggests that he could be open to changing his mind. The construction project has however been green-lit by the Constitutional Council. 

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Other roads

The Nancy-Metz-Luxembourg road (A31bis), the Arles bypass, and a proposed extension to the A68 south of Bordeaux have all been subject to intense public opposition and are currently under review. These appear to be likely roads to be scrapped following Beaune's latest statement. 

READ ALSO: Macron knows the political dangers of dragging France into a greener future

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