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Legal bid to overturn ban on above-ground pools in southern France

Restrictions to tackle drought conditions in Pyrénées-Orientales stigmatise swimming pools, says the federation bringing the legal challenge

An above-ground pool in a garden

Above-ground pools make up 50% of the private pools in France, the industry federation said, but should not be ‘stigmatised’ in the fight against drought Pic: photofort 77 / Shutterstock

A legal bid has been launched to overturn a ban on the sale of above-ground swimming pools in southern France. 

It has been initiated by France’s swimming pool federation, the Fédération des Professionnels de la Piscine (FPP). 

The ban was introduced earlier this month as one of the measures to tackle the impact of drought in Pyrénées-Orientales.

But FPP says the restriction places “more than 60,000 jobs in danger across the country”.

“The federation strongly denounces the denigrating communication by authorities and certain local elected officials on family pools, which do not take into account economic and ecological realities,” it said in a statement.

Read more: Map: The 28 French departments at high risk of drought this summer

The Pyrénées-Orientales is one of 18 departments in the south and southeast of France (plus Haute-Corse) that are at ‘very probable’ risk of drought during summer 2023. 

Much of the rest of the country is at ‘probable’ risk, with only the departments in the far east and west, plus Gironde, at only ‘possible’ risk.

Ministerial ban ‘illegal’

The ban has been in place since May 10. Christophe Béchu, France’s Ecological Transition Minister, announced it as part of a series of measures designed to address the region’s lack of water.

At the time, he said: “Climate change is here. We must get away from this culture of abundance.”

Read more: France drought: sales of above ground pools banned in parts of south 

But the FPP continued: “Since the announcement by the ecological transition minister on the ban on above-ground pools in the Pyrénées-Orientales, the entire family pool sector has been brutally stopped across the whole of France.

“The ban is not only illegal, but it will be totally ineffective because clients will just buy online or get them from abroad,” it said.

Private pools ‘stigmatised’

The FPP has said that the restrictions will hurt economic activity, after the two boom years of 2020 and 2021 (which happened as a result of Covid and more people staying at home in their gardens).

It also added that private pools make up 0.15% of the country’s annual consumption of water, and should not be included in the fight against drought. 

“Of this 0.15%, the filling up of new pools over a year only makes up 0.02% of water usage in France. [But] swimming pools are always targeted, spreading doubt in the minds of people in France,” it said.

It added that swimming pools were “stigmatised” in the fight against drought.

The federation states that France has 3.4 million private pools, of which half are above-ground, and the country has the second-highest number of private swimming pools in the world, after the United States.

Related stories

Map: The 28 French departments at high risk of drought this summer
Water restrictions set to launch as France faces chronic lack of rain 
How bad is the drought in France? See restrictions in your department 

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