to OECD Delegates
for COP 21
Nantes, November 27th 2015
What is Notre Dame des Landes airport really about?
NDDL airport is not about law abiding and State authority.
NDDL airport is not, primarily, about Environment.
NDDL airport is not about a few “bourgeois” shocked by the behaviour of “zadistes”, a new species of hippies who occupy the site.
NDDL airport might well become yet another sad instance in a long list of white elephants which include Ciudad Real in Spain, closed after 3 years, or Montreal-Mirabel, abandoned after 22 years and which cost Quebec so dearly. The project clearly demonstrates a lack of awareness of the market forces: an airport does not create traffic just because it is there.
NDDL airport is the child of stubborn politicians, backed by servile civil servants who are not prepared to displease by issuing objective recommendations. Of course they will never accept any independent arbitration.
NDDL airport is the result of a culture of political correctness, an approach whereby any serious discussion over the issue is avoided, and whereby the incestuous relationship between the Government, top civil servants and heads of major companies generates inefficiency.
NDDL airport would mean pouring cement over 3000 acres of precious natural wetland, an area the same size as London Heathrow (Europe’s n°1 airport), in order to welcome one tenth of the passengers (i.e. 7 million passengers as opposed to 70 million).
NDDL airport is about a Prefect (government-appointed head of the “Région”) who killed the equally sensitive Toulouse airport project, originally initiated by right wing politicians. Today he is fighting the anti-NDDL lobby who are using precisely the same arguments he himself had used at the time.
NDDL airport is about a Right wing senator from Vendée who will see the dynamic network of business from southern Loire, become cut off from the new airport by the traffic jams on the river bridges, northbound mornings and southbound evenings. But, he hopes to be elected as the “Région” next president, he needs his Nantes allies and, together with them, he attacks the socialist Government for their lack of spine regarding NDDL, insisting that, his party, the Right wing, would go ahead.
NDDL airport is about sheer demagogy, seeking the vote of ordinary citizens, who in most cases confess their total ignorance on the subject, by playing on their local pride: “Why should western France not have its prestigious major international airport?”
NDDL airport is about lying on the costs involved. The estimated figure released in 2012 by VINCI, the contractor, was €450M. However, that was based on a capacity limited to 4 million passengers and with shortfalls of all sorts (runway, airbridges, etc.). The actual updated project, complete with necessary road and train connections and a new bridge on the Loire is probably worth several billion Euros.
NDDL airport means a lie regarding the existing Nantes Atlantique airport, which is far less busy than other similar single runway airports, catering up to 3 or 4 times more traffic, such as Geneva, San Diego or Lisbon. A category 4 European airport, it can easily and gradually be optimised and modernised on its existing site. The total cost would stand between €100M to €200M, as opposed to some €900M deemed necessary by officials (who include totally unnecessary land expansion).
NDDL airport means the forced stagnation of Nantes Atlantique. No effort has been spared, over the last fifteen years, to convince Nantes inhabitants that progress is just impossible. Actually, noise efficient descent patterns could easily be introduced, and this, combined with new generation aircraft, would mean a quick reduction of noise areas, in total contradiction with the official line of ever increasing noise levels. Around London or Paris airports, noise is diminishing year after year: 8 times fewer people are concerned by a given level of noise around London Heathrow, over 30 years, according to official British figures.
NDDL airport means the embarrassment of resurrecting a useless project dating back to the sixties, in the same year Paris welcomes thousands of guests, from all over the world, flying in to attend a major climate event: COP21- while the city is still unable to offer decent rail connections to Paris-CDG airport (which has been awaited for more than 40 years).
HURRAH to ambitious and competitive projects, benefiting travellers and taxpayers, based on existing demand and open debate.
We say NO to political face-saving stubbornness or voter-centric demagogy.
If the matter was not so serious, it might even be amusing:
- To see the actual cost of building runways on deep muddy clay.
- To stare at an empty state-of-the-art terminal when Marseilles or Bordeaux have built cheap and adequate terminals perfectly suited to the low-cost traffic, dominant in regional airports.
- To witness the rage and frustration of all southern Loire voters compelled to drive through horribly congested bridges to get to the airport and back, mornings and evenings, at rush hour.
- To count the days when fog on this spongy plateau will deny the use of the airport to low-cost, regional and charter aircraft for which low visibility landing is not an option.
- To see passengers from Le Mans, Angers, Rennes or La Roche, who will have contributed to NDDL with their taxes, take high speed rail to Paris-CDG because the flight offer is still 10 to 20 times richer than in NDDL.
It is a pity for valuable birdlife around the well-known Lac de Grandlieu sanctuary, protected from construction by legal noise restrictions. Given the greed that some lobbies barely hide, the area will gradually be invaded and spoiled by extensive housing developments.
Copy to : Mrs Ségolène Royal, French Minister for Environment ; Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister for Foreign Affairs