The French Heathrow?
I have just returned from Nantes in South West France where 4,500 people demonstrated against plans for a new airport on Sunday (12th July). 14,000 over 2 days. This could become the 'French Heathrow'. The site of a victory as iconic as the struggle against the third runway.
The campaign has brought together a vibrant coalition of local residents, environmentalists, sympathetic politicians and direct action activists who have set up the ZAD camp in the area. It is a community-driven campaign protecting the homes and livelihood and land of small-holders whose families have farmed on the agricultural land for generations.
Over the past decade the campaign has grown in strength and radicalism. Already the local community has staged direct action protests. They are now supported by a camp of activists from all over Europe. On Sunday they all came together for what, each year, has become one of Europe's biggest annual protests. 4,500 people formed the human aeroplane, pictured above, with the defiant message that "we will win". Amongst those joining them for the weekend protest was both the radical activist Jose Bove and the Green Party candidate in next year's presidential election.
The campaigners have succeeded in making their fight a national issue. Hardly surprising as it has become the biggest airport campaign in Europe. If the Greens get enough votes in the Presidential Election they will insist that the dropping of the new airport will be a key condition in any deal they may do with the socialists.
Nantes already has an airport. The campaigners argue that, just a few hours by the fast TGV from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, the proposed airport - Nantes International - is little more than an exercise in ego-building by the regional politicians in the ruling socialist party. The campaigners have commissioned a report from the respected Dutch economic consultancy, CE Delft, to prove that the airport is unnecessary.
It is an inspiring fight. What the campaigners need is support from activists across Europe. Go down to the camp. And, in a few months, they may be organizing an event, possibly in Paris, where supporters will be asked to come from all over Europe. Our chance to deal another devastating blow to airport building in Europe.
For more information and directions to the camp you can get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org