Work to build a controversial new motorway in southern France is under way, the French government has claimed.
Thousands of protesters marched last month against the construction of the A69 between Toulouse and Castres.
Proponents of the 53km-long road say it is a question of economic survival for the region. But critics say it will destroy the environment.
On Tuesday (May 2), France’s transport minister, Clément Beaune, said: “[Work] has begun…and is now the subject of contractual obligations. Work on the project will begin. It is therefore no longer a project but the start of its construction.
“Does that mean that things cannot improve, that we can no longer debate? I don’t believe so, especially on the environmental aspects…[where we can] do better,” Mr Beaune said.
The minister appeared less certain after protests over the motorway on the weekend of April 22-23.
“We will take another look at a certain number of projects and will take brave and daring decisions in the next few months,” he said.
“Some projects will doubtlessly be suspended or stopped,” he added.
Projet A69 Toulouse-Castres : "On est dans une phase très préliminaire des travaux et, par exemple, réduire les impacts environnementaux, ça me paraît possible", déclare Clément Beaune. "La réponse sur tous les projets routiers ce sera au début de l'été". pic.twitter.com/wJcThazSe7— franceinfo (@franceinfo) April 24, 2023