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Airport protestors stage music fest

Occupied site at Notre-Dame-des-Landes attracts thousands for unofficial three-day event

PROTESTORS occupying the site of a new airport near Nantes have used the land to set up an unofficial music festival attracting thousands of visitors.

The FestiZad event at Notre Dame des Landes featured three days of live music and passed without any major incidents, according to police, although it had not received a permit from the préfecture.

Campaigners have occupied the site since last summer to try to halt the building of the new Aéroport du Grand Ouest, about 30km north-west of Nantes. It is planned to replace Nantes Atlantique Airport - which is near capacity and too near the city for expansion - and give the north-west its own transatlantic gateway.

Organisers said 30,000 people attended the festival this weekend. Police put the figure at 8,000.

The government strongly backs the €580 million airport plan which will create jobs in construction and a new international link, with a capacity of four million passengers and the ability to extend this to nine million. It would also have direct rail and motorway links.

Opponents, who include the Green Party - which has two members in the government - say the vast increase in passengers is due to low-cost carriers attracted only by local authority subsidies. They also denounce the loss of 1,650 hectares of historic bocage woodland.

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