French motorways blocked by ecotax protests

Traffic slowed to a snail's pace on several French motorways on Saturday as road-freight companies joined protests against the ecotax on lorries transporting goods on the country's roads.

An ecotax control portal near Nantes, eastern Franc
An ecotax control portal near Nantes, eastern Franc Reuters/Stephane Mahe

Over 300 lorries obstructed traffic around the giant Rungis wholesale food market near Paris on Saturday morning with disruption on the A4 and A86 motorways.

There were other protests by convoys of lorries driving at a snail's pace on:

  • The A7 motorway south of Lyon;
  • The A63 near Bordeaux;
  • The A62 near Toulouse;
  • The A1 near Lille.

Barricades were set up near ecotax portals in the Var and Bouches-du-Rhone regions of south-east France.

The protests were called by an organisation of small road transport companies, the OTRE, which promised to set at least 3,000 trucks on the country's roads, claiming the tax, which would average out at 14 centimetres per kilometre according to official estimates, would drive many small companies to the wall.

The OTRE pledged not to destroy portals, as protesters in Brittany have done, but a transformer powering one of them was set on fire on the A1 near Loon-Plage in the north overnight.

A 24-year-old unemployed man was sentenced on Friday to 150 hours of community service for having vandalised a speed control camera in Brittany.

Introduced by the previous government with cross-party support, the ecotax was supposed to raise 1.15 billion euros, 20 per cent of which would have gone to the company contracted to operate it, the rest being destined to boosting freight by rail or other ecofrinedly solutions.

A judicial inquiry into the contract has been opened.

Protests, mainly in Brittany, have led the government to suspend its implementation.

The latest protests want it scrapped.

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