French organisations stage week of actions

by | 19 May 2023 | Actions, Members

This post was written by Rester sure Terre and originally posted on their site

Responding to the call of the European Union against Aerial Nuisance (UECNA), several dozen associations and collectives gathered from May 9 to 14 and held around twenty demonstrations in French airports, aerodromes and heliports. Their demands: a cap on flights and a curfew. This was the first large-scale mobilization bringing together local residents associations and environmental activists, on the initiative of the French Union against Aircraft Nuisance (UFCNA), Rester sur Terre and Aviactions, to campaign for better public health conditions and climate and social justice. The Minister Delegate for Transport received associations and elected officials.  

The organisations mobilised to demand an end to the unbridled growth of air traffic which threatens many crucial aspects of our lives. They called for traffic reduction measures to protect the health of local residents and mitigate global warming. Since air transport, a highly polluting sector that is impossible to decarbonize in the short and medium term, must do its part in the necessary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

On May 9, 2023, several dozen elected officials gathered in front of the Ministry of Transport in the presence of Ile-de-France associations to challenge the French government, represented by Clément Beaune. 300 elected officials signed a letter addressed to the Minister for Transport, and a symbolic text was voted in the municipal council to request a cap on flights and a curfew in the airports of Ile-de-France.

Associations and elected officials are asking France to follow in the footsteps of the Dutch government, which recently took measures to cap and reduce the number of flights at Amsterdam-Schiphol. “If it’s possible in the Netherlands, it’s possible in France!” explains Françoise Brochot, spokesperson for ADVOCNAR, an association for the defense of residents of Roissy, an airport whose traffic is equivalent to that of Schiphol. “It is only a question of political will”.

The associations welcomed the minister’s agreement to consider a ceiling scenario for the airports of Roissy, Orly and Le Bourget. “It was important for the Minister to receive the associations, as airborne noise is a major public health problem. Its social cost is exorbitant: it has been estimated by French Environment and Energy Management Agency at 6.1 billion euros a year, ” commented Chantal Beer-Demander, president of the UFCNA. “But the measures should not be limited to the Ile-de-France.”

The associations held actions in airports and aerodromes throughout the week in Toulouse, Bordeaux (Eysines, Le Haillan), Lyon-Bron, Corbas, Villefranche, Pontoise Cormeille, Lille-Lesquin, Cannes- Mandelieu, Lognes-Emerainville, Albertville, Toussus-Le-Noble, and Saint-Pierre-de-la-Réunion.

Following the successful coming together of their movements, residents of airports and environmental activists intend to continue campaigning for the abandonment of airport extension projects (there are a dozen still being considered in France), a ceiling on flights, and a curfew at French airports which would represent the first step towards a gradual reduction in air traffic.

“We are facing three major problems: noise, air pollution and climate change. Taken separately, each of these issues would require an urgent response from the government. The good news is that to these three problems, there is a common solution: the reduction of air traffic,” said Charlène Fleury, coordinator of the Rester sur Terre network.

Photo credit: Martin Deyres | NADA Lille