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Hundreds stage protest against Nice airport expansion

Environmental groups say it will result in significantly more flights and that wildlife at a nearby protected area will be impacted

Nice airport terminal 2 is set to expand, much to the protest of local environmental groups Pic: EQRoy / Shutterstock

Around 500 people gathered near Nice Côte d’Azur airport yesterday (Saturday March 18) to protest against work to expand the site which is next to a protected nature area.

Aymeric Staub, a spokesperson for the airport, said last week that no extra “aviation capacities” were being added, nor was the landing zone being increased. He told radio station France Bleu that the airport is instead expanding the space available to welcome arriving and departing passengers in terminal 2.

This, however, would allow the airport to accommodate more flights as it can deal with more passengers arriving at the same time / close together, say protestors.

Read more: New UK-France air routes launched from Nice and Montpellier

Work on the expansion started a few days ago.

The Alliance écologique et sociale des Alpes-Maritimes (Alpes-Maritimes ecological and social alliance), which groups together around 30 Nice ecology associations and unions, called the expansion “climaticide”. 

The airport is next to a Natura 2000 nature protection area, encompassing 240 protected species and flora. A protester on Saturday told the local TV station France3 that she had found dead birds killed by pollution or stress.

In 2022, 12 million passengers passed through the airport. The expansion will mean an extra seven million, equivalent to over 20,000 extra flights, can pass through, claims Thierry Bitouzé, co-founder of the 06 residents’ association. “That means an enormous amount of sanitary and environmental waste,” he added.

Mr Bitouzé said the prefect for the Alpes-Maritimes region had signed a drought decree and at the same time signed off the airport expansion, which “leads to global warming and therefore droughts!” He said the policy was “completely incoherent”.

An appeal against the airport extension has been filed at Marseille’s administrative court. 

Related articles:

Two more departments on drought alert after France’s record dry period 

Bring in water restrictions from now, French prefects told

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