Green news in France - June 2019
A monthly update on environmental events and occurrences in France: mussel mortality, school pollution and eco-friendly farmer payouts
Mystery mussel mortality
Shellfish farming experts were left baffled by an abnormally high mortality rate among mussels growing on the Pas-de-Calais (Hauts-de-France) coast at the end of February.
On the shellfish beds between Equihen and Cap Gris-Nez, tons of wild moules were found dead, with the Departmental directorate of territories and the sea (DDTM) commenting: “The causes of this mortality could not be determined.”
However, authorities ensured that “the consumption of shellfish is without any particular risk to health”.
The region is a large consumer of mussels, with the annual Lille Braderie (pictured) a focal point for moules-frites fans.
Paris and Marseille schools polluted
Two new air quality reports have revealed that a huge number of schools in Ile-de-France and Marseille are exposed to air pollution levels which are in excess of regulatory limits.
According to the Respire (Breathe) association, of 12,520 crèches, kindergartens, primary schools, colleges and lycées in the Ile-de-France region, 682 establishments registered excessive nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). 548 of these were within Paris, according to the data collected between 2012 and 2017.
Meanwhile in Marseille, Greenpeace’s research from 2017 found that more than half of the schools and crèches are located less than 200 metres from an area where nitrogen dioxide air pollution exceeds the legal level.
The organisation cites road traffic as the main cause of nitrogen oxide pollution, with diesel vehicles largely to blame. It also called on local authorities to “urgently create a Low Emission Zone, which gradually limits the circulation of polluting cars and trucks”.
Greenpeace presented its interactive map of pollution levels to local residents and held a workshop to create flags and masks to raise awareness of the problem.
Eco-friendly farmer payouts begin
A total of €120 million was paid at the end of March to farmers who applied for Common Agricultural Policy support for agri-environmental and climate measures (MAEC) and organic farming for 2018.
This first payment concerns about 20,600 applications. “That is nearly 30% of the total number of applications for the 2018 CAP campaign,” the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.
These payments came despite some subsidies for 2016 and 2017 still being unpaid, with farmers implementing legal action against the government to recoup funds.
“When organic farmers defend themselves and take legal action, the ministry reacts,” the National Federation of Organic Agriculture (FNAB) said on Twitter.
Last February, President Emmanuel Macron promised that delays in payments of subsidies for 2016 and 2017 would be cleared by mid-March. However, according to the Ministry, these have not yet been fully paid. They are “nearing completion with 85% and 62% of the total number of cases [€596 million] paid respectively”.
The subsidies are aimed at supporting agricultural holdings that “engage in the development of practices that combine economic and environmental performance or in the maintenance of such practices when they are threatened with extinction.”