in Charente-Maritime, justice validates agricultural reserves

in Charente-Maritime, justice validates agricultural reserves
in Charente-Maritime, justice validates agricultural reserves

A victory for irrigating farmers. The Bordeaux administrative court of appeal validates the construction of 19 water reserves for agricultural use in the Boutonne basin in the north of Charente-Maritime. By its opinion of May 28, the court annulled the judgment of the administrative court of Poitiers, pronounced in 2021, which suspended the project on the grounds of environmental and hydrological shortcomings in the file.

Following the recommendations of the public rapporteur presented in a hearing on May 7, the court rejected one by one the requests of the associations at the origin of the appeal (Nature Environnement 17, SOS Rivières et Environnement as well as the League for the Protection of Birds). And considers that the file carried by Syres 17, the Joint Union of Substitution Reserves of Charente-Maritime which associates the departmental council with farmers, is complete.

“Given the issues identified and the avoidance and reduction measures adopted by the petitioner, the completeness of which the Environmental Authority has underlined, it does not follow from the investigation that the project in dispute presents a sufficiently significant risk of destruction of sensitive individuals or habitats »indicates the court in its judgment.

Little impact on water and biodiversity

The impact on water resources would also be controlled. “ [Le syndicat] planned the implementation of a protocol for monitoring hydrological functioning for the purposes of “improving knowledge and reconsidering management” from the first year with an assessment after one, two, three, five and ten years , thus making it possible to adapt the project to climatic changes and their effects on water resources. In these conditions, contrary to what the first judges held, it does not follow from the investigation that the impact study would be insufficient or erroneous with regard to the water table drawdown tests.we read.

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The associations also pointed out a non-compliance with the avoid-reduce-compensate sequence, obvious harm to the little bustard (a protected species almost threatened with extinction) and a hydrological test campaign limited to a few months and on ten boreholes. while the project has 62. So many points that the jurisdiction dismissed by citing the new work produced by the project leader and by demonstrating its compatibility with the regional water management plan in the Adour-Garonne basin.

“One point still poses a problem for us: the decree authorizes the filling of the reserves until there is no flow into the rivers. This is incompatible with the preservation of the fish farming environment”regrets Marie Bomare, head of the legal unit of Nature Environnement 17.

End of game in Council of State

This decision thus paves the way for the construction of the very first structures of Syres 17, almost ten years after its creation. And shows the extent to which structures wishing to develop irrigation on a large scale must professionalize and strengthen their file to achieve their goals. The union still had to abandon the construction of three structures and reduce its desired volume of withdrawals, while pursuing the objective of supplying 67 farmers.

An adaptation that is all the more pressing because for Syres 17 it is a question of avoiding experiencing the same setbacks as the rock union association. The operation of the reserves of this structure in the Mignon basin was declared illegal by the Council of State in February 2023. The applicant associations against Syres 17 have two months to pursue their appeal to the Council of State and have not yet made their decision, indicates Nature Environnement 17 to La Tribune.

For their part, the Adour-Garonne water agency and the basin committee say they take note of the decision. These will be vigilant about the modalities of implementation of these works, in particular on the agroecological transition trajectory of farmers benefiting from it », Write the agencies associated with supervising the project.

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