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Work on new controversial motorway in southern France ‘has begun’

That is the claim of France’s transport minister Clément Beaune, contradicting his comments last month that he would reexamine the project

The Transport Minister appeared more strident in his statements about the controversial motorway today compared to last week Pic: Spech / Shutterstock

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.

Read more: Controversial new A69 motorway in southern France: What do you think? 

The minister appeared less certain after protests over the motorway on the weekend of April 22-23.

At the time - and in apparent contradiction of his latest comments - Mr Beaune said the government would reexamine the A69 project.

“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.

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