Despite the ban on the demonstration and the intervention of the police on Friday near the gathering place, opponents of the A69 motorway project should receive significant reinforcement with the expected arrival at La Cabanade du Tarn of the environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Saturday February 10.
Mentioned for twenty-four hours, the presence on Saturday in the zone to be defended (ZAD) of Crém’arbre, in the town of Saïx, of this world figure in the fight against global warming was confirmed Friday early in the evening by the No Macadam collective, which is one of the groups opposed to the construction of the highway linking Toulouse to Castres.
“This allows the fight against the A69 to be fully registered at the international and national level and encourages political leaders to take stock of their stubbornness”affirmed the collective, while the protest movement seemed to be running out of steam in recent months and “45% of the budget” work has been undertaken and “95% of deforestation” carried out, according to the Atosca company, motorway concessionaire.
The 21-year-old Swedish activist must participate, alongside elected environmentalists, in La Cabanade, the name given to the two days of awareness of environmental issues planned for Saturday and Sunday, with workshops, round tables and concerts on the program.
“Risks of major disturbances to public order”
It must take place on a private meadow, made available by a farmer sympathetic to opponents of the highway. The land is located a few hundred meters from a wooded area which is the subject of a dispute linked to an expropriation of its owner due to the construction of the highway and where activists camp in tents or in cabins built in the trees.
Friday, the prefect of Tarn, Michel Vilbois, announced that he had “issued an order prohibiting demonstrations and gatherings” Saturday and Sunday in Saïx, invoking “risk of major disturbances to public order”. A gendarmerie squadron then intervened in the afternoon in the immediate vicinity of the opponents’ camp, using tear gas and making at least two arrests, according to journalists from Agence France-Presse.
“The police operation led by one hundred and two gendarmes made it possible to dismantle the booby-trapped barricades installed, seize the various materials intended for the construction of cabins and restore order”, explained the prefecture. According to the latter, the gendarmes did not access the wooded area where the camp was established.
A police source estimates that between “one hundred and two hundred people” could participate in the weekend mobilization, while the organizers expect between five hundred and a thousand people, according to indications provided before the announcement of Greta Thunberg’s arrival.
Parliamentary commission of inquiry
The French government is determined to carry out “until its end” this section of motorway, which would reduce the Castres-Toulouse journey by around twenty minutes and must be put into service in 2025.
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A parliamentary commission of inquiry at the initiative of environmentalist deputies will soon begin its work, in order to explore the “legal and financial arrangement of the project”. According to its opponents, this decades-old project is obsolete, dating from before the awareness of the changes in behavior made necessary by climate change.
“Dear Greta Thunberg, (…) the A69 motorway meets a vital need for Tarn and its inhabitants”on the contrary declared in a press release on Friday, the president of the Tarn departmental council, Christophe Ramond, for whom his department “has no lessons to learn in terms of sustainable development”.