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France

Clashes with police as airport protesters plan next move

Reuters/Stephane Mahe

Delegates from across France met this weekend on the site of the controversial planned airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, near Nantes in western France. Police and protesters clashed in the city itself and on a road on the site.

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The stormy anti-airport protests have become a focus for opposition to projects deemed environmentally damaging or wasteful in a number of parts of France, delegates told journalists.

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The 300 participants were representing support committees that have sprung up in at least 180 towns and cities and came to the site to show solidarity with squatters and farmers trying to prevent the Nantes project and to plan the next steps in their fight.

The planned airport has opened up divisions in the government, with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a former mayor of Nantes, a vigorous supporter and leading members of the Green party, EELV, the Socialists’ coalition partner, joining the demonstrations against it.

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Police clashed with a group of protesters who were trying to hold a picnic on a road on the site. They fired teargas, claiming that they were responding to teargas grenades thrown at them.

In Nantes itself several hundred people joined a protest “against repression” and were teargassed when they reached the banks of the river Loire. 

There were two arrests, protesters say.

Since mid-October, when the authorities started trying to clear airport opponents from the site, several have been given suspended sentences and one man has been sent to prison for five months for hitting a gendarme posing as a demonstrator with a slingshot.

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