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Notre-Dame-des-Landes: is the State going to give up the Airport project?

the project has been in the pipelines for almost 50 years


According to a study by Terra Eco magazine, even in the event of giving up the project of the Norte-Dames-des-Landes platform, the costs will be considerable to taxpayers. Because beyond paying eventual penalties to the promotor Vinci, it will be necessary to invest in the current airport of Nantes-Atlantique to sustain the growth of air traffic.



Even in the event of giving up the Notre-Dame-des-Landes project, the State will still need to invest to renovate the Nates-Atlantique airport, and pay penalties to Vinci. © Frédéric Massard - Fotolia.com
Even in the event of giving up the Notre-Dame-des-Landes project, the State will still need to invest to renovate the Nates-Atlantique airport, and pay penalties to Vinci. © Frédéric Massard - Fotolia.com
Is it the end of the battle against the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport?

According to Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the prime minister Manuel Valls has promised giving up the project, in exchange with the participation of the ecologist Jean-Vincent Placé in the government.

An offer that illustrates how the political support to Norte-Dames-des-Landes is starting to wear out.

In fact, the project has been in the pipelines for almost 50 years.

Thought up in the sixties, it was put on hold in the seventies to then be revived in 2000 under Jospin’s government. The first call for bids in 2008 was followed by a public survey in 2010.

Since then, opponents have not stopped expressing their disagreement, by occupying the space, protesting, battling through numbers and press releases.

Even the tourism professionals from Nantes, that we interviewed in 2012, believed lacking unbiased information to form a precise opinion on the topic.

However, our columnist Jean-Louis Baroux, has clear-cut opinion: this airport will never be profitable.

A necessary improvement of Nantes-Atlantique

However, abandoning the project could still cost a lot to the State.

Because it will be necessary, in any case, to improve Nantes-Atlantique, in which the traffic keeps growing (+8.2% in 2013.)

According to a report by the DGAC, renovating the runway will be mandatory, because it does not conform to the regulations and recommandations of the OACI.

A second terminal will have to be built to support the growth, projected to 9 million passengers by 2050. “This detailed study demonstrates that the solution of maintaing the activity is not physically impossible, but will be very costly” concluded the researchers.

These developments are estimated to cost 825 million euros, against 807 for the future Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

These figures, are once again contested by opponents in a report that estimates the costs of renovating the current infrastructure to be two times less costly in the long run.

Vinci has already moved on

Another source of expected spending: paying penalties to Vinci. In 2010, the company had signed a concession contract to build the new airport. This cancellation will certainly require compensations.

The magazine Terra Eco tried to estimate the cost by calculating the eventual loss of compensation of the shareholders during the 45 years of the concession. An amount that could reach 2,36 billion euros.

But it is quite unlikely that the State be required to pay that much of a penalty, according to the explanation of Ronan Dantec, a Loire Atlantique senator, quoted in Terra Eco.

“Vinci works a lot with the State. So as a good salesperson with an excellent client, the company won’t fuss over some of the contracts.”

All the more, the construction company is already contracted for the current Nantes-Atlantique airport, of which the concession has generated 155 million in cash flow in 2011, according to information from Médiapart.

In front of the various difficulties, the manufacturer seems to have moved on. It is now focusing on buying out airports in Portugal and is on a call for bids in Santiago in Chile, and in Peru.

Projects that seem less controversial than the one in Nantes.

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 08/09/2014
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