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French construction companies blockade fuel depots

Construction companies are blockading fuel depots across Brittany in protest against the government’s plan to remove tax incentives for off-road fuel.

The changes to the fuel terms - currently known as the avantage fiscal du gazole non routier (GNR) - are set to come into law in 2020.

The changes will apply to diesel used to power construction site trucks, diggers, and other vehicles and machines used off-road.

A depot in Vern-sur-Seiche, a neighbourhood south of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), has been blockaded since 1am this morning, as has a facility in Lorient (Morbihan) since 21h on Thursday November 28, and one in Brest (‎Finistère) since “the middle of the night”, according to local authorities.

Construction vehicles such as diggers and dump trucks have been parked in front of the entrances, to block fuel tankers from entering the depot, which supplies unleaded petrol, diesel and domestic heating oil across the west of France.

Frédéric Corbet, owner of a digging and sanitation company, who is protesting in Brest, said: “We are obviously not opposed to eco-friendly policies in general. But it will be for everyone, or for no-one!”

Mr Corbet said that construction companies have “no alternative” but to use fossil fuels, as there “is [currently] no other economically viable machine on the market”.

Of the protests, he said: “We hope to stay here for as short a time as possible; we will see if anyone listens to us.”

Recently, the Senate considered the budget plan, and decided to increase the length of time companies will have to claim financial support for the purchase of less-polluting materials following the changes to the current plan.

This has now been extended to December 31, 2021.

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