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article imageFrance ditches plans for divisive west coast airport

By AFP     Jan 17, 2018 in World

The French government on Wednesday formally abandoned decades-old plans for a controversial new airport on the west coast that became a site of resistance for environmental activists.

In a keenly awaited announcement, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the divisions unleashed by the proposed new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near the city of Nantes made it impossible to proceed.

"The project cannot go ahead in a climate of bitter opposition between two sides of the population that are nearly equal in size," he said, adding: "The project is therefore abandoned."

The decision ends years of debate over a project first mooted in the 1960s -- but sets the stage for a possible standoff with environmental activists who have been occupying the airport site for the past decade.

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

Philippe gave them until the spring to leave voluntarily, after which they would be evicted.

"We will put a stop to the no-go zone which has flourished in this area for nearly 10 years," he said.

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