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French government abandons disputed airport project in western France

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Staff Writer | January 18, 2018
Air traffic   Notre-Dame-des-Landes

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the government's decision to drop the controversial project to build an international airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL) western France, ending five decades of protests.

"The government made its decision. The conditions are not met for the construction of this airport," Philippe said.

Justifying "a decision of appeasement which must lead to new beginning," the prime minister stressed "the project will be abandoned."

"For 50 years, the state has faced an impossible dilemma, and the indecisiveness of the government has left supporters and opponents clashing. When we took office, the situation was totally blocked," he added.

Instead, he proposed to modernize the existing Nantes-Atlantique airport "as soon as possible" by developing the surrounding areas of the airport's runways and reducing noise pollution.

In addition, he wants to "better distribute air traffic" in the country's western region by revamping Rennes-Saint-Jacques airport and improving rail infrastructure in the area.

The NDDL project, financed by the state and private investors, aims to build a second airport in Nantes by taking over hundreds of hectares of farmland in order to boost economic prospects in the region.

However, farmers, ecologists and anarchists who call themselves ZADists have staged fierce protests for decades.

Following the government's decision, Philippe called on "illegal occupiers," who have been camping in the area to oppose the plan, "to leave by the next spring or they will be evicted."

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