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Green news in France: March 2020

A monthly update on environmental events and occurrences in France: opposition to luxury club, ex- ecology minister rues time in power, Coming together for biodiversity and Cotton bud maker’s paper success

Opposition to luxury club in Loir-et-Cher

A 400 hectare area of ‘Natura 2000’ protected forest and fields in the Sologne region of Loir-et-Cher, is the subject of a renewed proposal to build a luxury tourist complex (see illustration above).

The project would include 565 homes, a golf course, riding school, tennis courts and swimming pool.

Located a few kilometres from Chambord Castle, the project, previously halted in 2014 following local opposition, has come under fire from regional elected officials and environmentalists. “Every weekend, it’s going to be thousands of cars, an average of 2,000 people coming here,” said Charles Fournier, vice-president ecologist of the regional council.

“The impact will be enormous on the roads, on the water [supply]. A golf course requires massive water consumption.”

Opponents say it is pointless to add a new golf course when there are several nearby. They add that they do not wish to see a “reserve” for tourists or wealthy residents who come to “consume nature”.

Bernard Saunier, the boss of the Saneo company behind the project, is expected to submit his application for environmental authorisation this month.


Ecology minister rues time in power 

The former Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition (from May 2017 to August 2018), Nicolas Hulot, has launched a scathing attack on colleagues from his time in government.

Attending a Citizen’s Convention for the Climate, comprised of 150 citizens meeting to reflect on France’s climate policy, he said: “The Ministry of Economy and Finance was undermining what I was proposing”. He added: “I spent hours at [Hôtel] Matignon [The Prime Minister’s residence] having my decisions arbitrated and, one day, I asked my team: can someone tell me what I can decide on my own? No one answered me.”

Of MPs, he said: “The most difficult thing for me when I was minister was the sessions in the National Assembly where you had the impression that everyone hated each other.”


Coming together for biodiversity

The Brittany region has elected board members to its first ever biodiversity agency, which will be based in Brest.

Director Sylvie Detoc explained its aims: “There are already associations for nature protection; but also communities that take decisions on land use planning; scientists who know the subject; plus users and companies. We put everyone around the table to work together.”

When asked by France Bleu if it would be hard to reconcile hunters, environmentalists and government services, she said: “It’s never easy to arrive at a common action plan. But in Brittany we are used to consultation.”


Cotton bud maker’s paper success

A Normandy firm has seen huge success by producing paper cotton buds, in the wake of the January 1 ban on plastic ones.

Lemoine, based in Caligny, Orne, turns out an impressive 10million buds every day and anticipated the move to paper buds three years ago.

It is now the world’s second largest company in the sector.

“We had to adapt all our assembly machines to prepare for this new product,” said Sébastien Mauny, head of projects and development.

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