Motorway A69 between Castres and Toulouse: what lies behind the avalanche of legal actions against the construction site

Motorway A69 between Castres and Toulouse: what lies behind the avalanche of legal actions against the construction site

Over the past year, a dozen legal appeals have been urgently filed by opponents of the A69 construction site, all of which have so far been rejected. Supporters and opponents had to get in fighting order for this judicial guerrilla war. That has become a communication problem.

Since March 1, 2023 and the environmental permit granted to the company Atosca to build the A69, no fewer than 9 appeals have been urgently filed – and rejected by the various authorities – by groups of opponents of the highway connection. In total, about fifteen cases have been brought, if we take into account the summary proceedings on the merits and the various appeals.

“This does not confirm the legality of the project!”

For Master Claire Dujardin, According to one of the lawyers for the groups of opponents, the rejections of all these summary proceedings “do not confirm the legality of the project, for which action is still pending. Certain decisions do not stand legally,” says the lawyer. She explains about the multiplication of these summary proceedings: “The number of appeals shows that there is illegality, that there is forced passage. We would like to warn about the consequences of the project, the destruction of trees and wetlands.”

There are two aspects to the appeals filed and examined over the past year. On the one hand, environmental appeal: a provisional injunction against the felling of trees in Vendine, which reached all the way to the Council of State, a provisional injunction suspending the environmental permit, or even a provisional injunction against the felling of trees in line, which also went to cassation , then to the Council of State.

And then there are the appeals that concern human rights: this is, for example, the case with the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, filed by the opponents on 29 February. About the latter – also rejected – Claire Dujardin tempers: “The request was examined and, even if it was rejected, there were changes on the ground, following the request for explanations from the French government.”

“We must respect court decisions!”

Gilles Garric, member of the collective of opponents La Voie est Libre, also moderates the scope of the rejections of these emergency referrals. “These procedures are not very appropriate. And certain decisions, such as the one on the useful summary of measures calling for an end to the felling of trees with cream (submitted on February 28, 2024), are a scandal.”

The fact remains that the state services, and in particular the Prefecture of Tarn, have organized themselves accordingly to respond to the influx of legal proceedings. Maxime-Yasser Abdoulhoussen, A69 project director, coordinates a team of lawyers. “We need to know how to respect judicial decisions,” the project director emphasizes. “We can’t say every time that justice is biased!” And to emphasize the illegal nature of the tree occupation in Crémade, the subject of several legal actions.

Room for an appeal on the merits?

Numerous actions on the part of state services indicate “a form of exploitation” of the right to appeal. “It is of course a right, Maxime-Yasser Abdoulhoussen explains. But these appeals, filed by the same actors but with different means, should not become attempts at obstruction.”

In any case, several appeals remain on the merits. One of them in particular concerns the legality of the environmental permit issued in March 2023, on which the current project is based. “They are playing with time, which is to their advantage,” estimates Gilles Garric. “The number of summary proceedings is also a way to advance the appeals on the merits, because the legal system examines different documents each time.”

The main appeal on the merits, seeking the withdrawal of the environmental permit, could be examined in 2024.

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