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French couple look to Europe in fight for treetop home

A couple living in a tree house  plan to go to the European Court of Justice to defend their right to continue living in their cabin.

Xavier Marmier has lived for eight years in the tree house that he and friends built on his forest plot but now he and his partner Line Ruelle have been ordered by the mairie to leave the cabin and demolish it.

The mayor says the cabin was built on a forbidden Natura 2000 conservation site but Mr Marmier, a forester and circus tent-builder, says that the previous mayor had given permission.

He bought the plot in Cléron, Doubs, Franche-Comté, in 2008 and started building.

As it was in a Natura 2000 protected zone, the then-mayor could have halted it but gave support.

Mr Marmier has been living in it since 2011, without water but with electricity from solar panels.

A new mayor asked him to apply for a building permit but, once the application was received, rejected it.

Since then, Mr Marmier has fought the case through the courts, up to the Cour de Cassation high appeal court.

He said: “I have nowhere else to live. I don’t know what to do.

“We love it here... waking up to the birds in the morning, seeing the animals below. This is my land  and I am very attached to life here. Complying with the destruction order will cost me €36,000, including a €18,000 fine at €100 a day, plus €3,000 for the mairie legal costs. I can only look to the European court.”

A petition, Sauvons la cabane de Xavier, has 156,000 names.

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