A “Land March” to counter the advance of urbanization

Four processions were to converge this Sunday, October 10 in front of Matignon, after having left the day before four municipalities concerned by large-scale urbanization projects: Thoiry (Yvelines), Gonesse (Val-d’Oise), Val Bréon (Seine-et -Marne) and Villiers-le-Bâc on the Saclay plateau (Essonne). Their watchword? Fight against the disappearance of natural, agricultural or forest surfaces in Île-de-France.

“We are asking the government for a moratorium on the artificialization of soils”, says Bernard Loup, president of the Collectif du Triangle de Gonesse. This retired professor and longtime activist for this cause saw his fight rewarded in 2019, when the government announced the abandonment of the project of the giant Europacity complex.

→ REPORT IN Magny-les-Hameaux, a brake on urban sprawl

“1,500 hectares of agricultural land disappear every year”

But his joy was short-lived: both the town hall of Gonesse and the State wanted the station integrated into the Grand Paris Express, which was to serve Europacity, to be nevertheless maintained. Worse, Thursday, October 7, the Paris Court of Appeal overturned a judgment which suspended the start of work. “Rather than spending money and closing farms, they should first improve the current RER D”, protests Bernard Loup, who denounces an artificialization of soils “Which keeps increasing” In the region.

→ ANALYSIS Artificialization of soils, avenues to reverse the trend

According to the Ile-de-France chamber of agriculture, “100,000 hectares of fertile land” have disappeared in fifty years and “In recent years, 1,500 hectares of agricultural land have been transformed into urban space every year”. The most populated region in France is also the most artificial: nearly 21% of its surface is urban areas. However, it remains the one where the artificialization of soils is progressing the least (+ 0.7% of urbanized area between 2008 and 2018) according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

An impact on biodiversity

On the Saclay plateau, environmental activists are fighting against the emergence of a metro line connecting the future technopole and Orly. In the future, line 18 could accommodate up to 20,000 passengers per hour, which critics believe “Oversized”. “There will only be a need for 4,000 to 6,000 places”, deplores Fabienne Mérola, coordinator of the “Urgence Saclay” collective.

With risks for the biodiversity of the plateau. “The line will cut the plateau in two, disturbing wildlife, especially large animals. Not to mention the light pollution for other species on which local farmers depend a lot, especially organic ”, continues this chemist, research director at Paris-Saclay University.

The urbanization of the plateau could also have dangerous repercussions on the surrounding towns. “Concreting accelerates the flow of rainwater, which will descend the slopes and could cause flooding downstream”, adds Fabienne Mérola.

“Zero net artificialization” by 2050

The associations which fight against concreteization believe that the public power is “Schizophrenic”. “There is a double discourse from the government which says it wants to fight against urbanization while several major projects are emerging”, notes Bernard Loup.

Emmanuel Macron had indeed committed in 2018 to an objective of ” zero net artificialization »By 2050: a commitment enshrined in the climate and resilience law promulgated on August 22 which prohibits, except for exceptions, the construction of new large retail outlets. According to the Artificialization Observatory, approximately 20,000 hectares of agricultural land or natural soils were urbanized between 2019 and 2020, which is the equivalent of twice the area of ​​Paris.


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