Greta Thunberg could almost go unnoticed among the several hundred demonstrators gathered in Saïx, in Tarn, on Saturday February 10, to protest against the A69 motorway project. It was on foot, in the pouring rain, that one of the world’s leading figures in the fight against global warming joined the demonstration called La Cabanade at the end of the morning. This, at the call of anti-A69 activists and collectives – a project already launched which aims to transform the current national road 126 into a 53-kilometer toll lane between Toulouse and Castres – takes place over two days under the large green shed of a farm made available by its owner.
Gray hood on her head, Palestinian keffiyeh around her neck and blue hiking shoes on her feet, Greta Thunberg initially walled herself in silence, surrounded by a delegation of six international activists. “It is madness to maintain such a project which will endanger the quality of life of the inhabitants”she finally said, pushed to react by the journalists present, who came in large numbers. “We are losing valuable resources. This will destroy nature and viable land. This will trap us in a toxic system of exploitation and pollution. This must stop”she urges.
“Contempt for our territory”
A speech welcomed by Thomas Brail, the climbing arborist very committed to the A69. “She puts the spotlight back on this stupid project », welcomed Mr. Brail, who in September 2023 began a hunger strike and then a thirst strike as a protest. According to him, ten to fifteen militant climbers – the “squirrels” – are still installed in the trees of the small wood renamed ZAD (zone to defend) Crém’Arbres, where cabins have been built.
For his part, Christophe Ramond (PS), president of the Tarn departmental council and fervent defender of this motorway axis, described the arrival of Greta Thunberg as “show”. “Basically, this whole circus reflects on the part of the professional protesters a deep contempt for our territory, its inhabitants and public officials who, on a daily basis, build coherent environmental policies for the future of the Tarn”reacted the elected official in a press releaserecalling that the construction site is “legitimate because it has been validated by all our democratic institutions”.
On March 1, 2023, the prefectures of Tarn and Haute-Garonne granted the concessionaire Atosca the necessary environmental authorizations to start the motorway project. Almost a year later, Tuesday February 6, Martial Gerlinger, its general director, assured during a press conference that the schedule would be “held”, with commissioning of the A69 planned for the end of 2025. If the preparatory work for the diversion of the networks and the start of the construction of the crossing works have been carried out, the concessionaire is preparing to resume on February 15 the deforestation of land belonging to an expropriated resident located at the place called the Crémade, in Saïx.
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