Straw huts targeted by procedures: “It is time to apply the coastal law”

Straw huts targeted by procedures: “It is time to apply the coastal law”

Straw huts targeted by procedures: “It is time to apply the coastal law”

Simon Popy veut que les paillotes soient implantées en zone urbanisée comme le prévoit la loi. DR

Simon Popy is president of France Nature Environnement Occitanie-Mediterranean, he discusses the ecological issues linked to the locations of private beaches on the coast.

What is the problem with private beaches ?

The question arises in the same way on all coastlines: are the huts located on remarkable areas of the coastline (ERL)? You have communities which decide in their d&rsquo document ;urban planning, in particular the PLU, to say that such a space is classified as remarkable. Other municipalities say that such a place is not an ERL.

But when we ask the administrative judge, he looks at possible classifications as nature protection zones and the case law is clear and consistent: the court reclassifies as ERL, even if the municipalities do not agree, as in La Grande-Motte.

What is the situation in Occitanie ?

L’Hérault, Aude and the P-O – we have no example in Gard – , are the only French departments where the coastal law has not been respected since 1986 – its date of creation – compared to these private beaches. For decades, there has been a laissez-faire attitude and some elected officials consider that this is authorization.

We say that now it is time to apply the coastal law, which the State does not do. Environmental defense associations are empowered to act, we demand that the law be applied. There, we have ongoing disputes in Vendres and Leucate.

But they have an economic weight in our region which lives on tourism…

Be careful, we are not saying that it is not necessary. In France, they are authorized in unremarkable places, all urbanized seafronts, that leaves kilometers of beach. If we claim to achieve sustainable development, the first condition is to respect the environmental code.

What do you blame them for ?

We are told: “it's three boards on stilts”, but it's more than that, they are large installations. There is also a lot of waste and broken glass that ends up on the beach. The biggest impact is the concentration of traffic on given points with the question of parking that is not always managed.

And there is also the question of the privatization of the coastline and the fundamental right of citizens to have the possibility of accessing natural beaches without having straw huts on them and who seek contact with nature.

But the media coverage of the cases has changed mentalities. Some municipalities have decided to move, anticipate solutions and sometimes retreat to better share the space. We also have responsible and less separatist mayors.

The culture needs to change. There is perhaps also the fear of recourse from associations and of spending time on battles that are already lost.

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