No more building permits will be issued for the next four years in nine communes in the south of France due to a lack of water as a result of the ongoing drought.
Authorities in the Var (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) communes have decided that it is not possible to welcome any new residents at the current time, nor allow any new building projects – with the water that this requires – to take place.
The moratorium will last up to four years, the communes have said.
It comes in the context of the ongoing drought situation across much of France, which is particularly severe in Var (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur). The groundwater levels are historically low, and authorities have said that the population is already too high to ensure that each resident will have adequate access to water this summer.
Only construction permit applications submitted before the month of February will be considered.
The communes affected are: Bagnols-en-Forêt, Callian, Fayence, Mons, Montauroux, Saint-Paul-en-Forêt, Seillans, Tanneron, and Tourrettes.
The department prefecture has approved the move but the president of the Var construction federation, la Fédération du bâtiment, Jean-Jacques Castillon, said that he now fears “dramatic” consequences for the sector.
The decision on building permits comes as the ecology minister is set to bring in restrictions across the country to limit water use. Christophe Béchu said the situation was “alarming” and that measures were needed now to avoid a “crisis” situation over water availability, including drinking water, in summer.
As of February 28, five departments are already on heightened alert: Ain, Isère, Bouches-du-Rhône, Pyrénées-Orientales and Var. The department of Savoie is also on vigilance alert.
5 départements (Ain, Isère, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône & Pyrénées-Orientales) sont désormais en alerte renforcée #sécheresse, et le ministre de la Transition écologique demande aux préfets coordinateurs de prendre des arrêtés de restriction "dès maintenant".https://t.co/oWFcNQqnlr pic.twitter.com/5JTFZ66ylr— Nicolas Berrod (@nicolasberrod) February 27, 2023
In January, environmental experts already warned that the country was facing a ‘very dry year’ in 2023 after high temperatures and low rainfall in 2022.
Earlier this month, forecasters said that March would be ‘make or break’ for the country.