French court removes approval for new road - a year after it is built

The road runs through woodland that is home to some 45 protected species

The court made its decision a year after the road was finished. Photo for illustration purposes

A French court ruled against the construction of a new road running through protected woodland… a year after it was finished. 

Rue de Felgueiras, in the town of Pont-Sainte-Maxence, in the northern Hauts-de-France region, destroyed 2.4 hectares of woodland and contravened environmental laws, but was allowed to be built after the prefecture in the Oise department granted a special waiver in 2021. 

A court in Amiens, northern France, quashed the waiver last month, ruling there was “no compelling reason” in the public interest to justify the original exemption to environmental laws. 

It confirmed the annulment of the 2021 decree granting Pont-Sainte-Maxence “an exemption from the prohibition of the destruction, alteration or degradation of breeding sites or resting areas of animals, protected animal species and the destruction of protected plant species”. 

While the court has not stipulated the road must be removed, it has ordered the town hall to pay the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), which brought the appeal, €1,500. 

Biodiversity has been destroyed 

“Unfortunately (this is) three years too late,” the LPO said in a statement on its online petition to support its case. 

“This victory leaves a very bitter taste,” it wrote, adding “the entire hillside has been razed, the biodiversity has been destroyed.” 

The organisation said it would wait to see if the town hall appealed the decision before deciding on its next steps, but said it “would not stop there”, France 3 reports. 

The 720-metre long road runs through woodland that is home to some 45 protected species, states France 3

The town hall had argued there was a major public interest in building the road which connects the area of Terriers – previously served by a single access road – to the main town. 

Mayor Arnaud Dumontier in 2021 said the plans would help ease traffic congestion and allow emergency vehicles quicker access. 

Environmentalists say the road has caused the wood’s population of red squirrels to plummet, and note that beech trees close to the road have already begun to die.