This banner has recently gone up on the side of the road into Preuilly. The landholders are our local organic orchardists and market gardeners, and the issue is the plan for a big new airport near Nantes. Their banner says 'Supporting the country folk of Notre-Dame-des-Landes'.
In support of the fight against the airport project at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, a new group has been created in the Loches area, to lobby against what they have dubbed 'Big Pointless Projects' (les grands projets inutiles).
On the site, a group known as the 'zadistes'* occupies the area, encircled by tractors to protect themselves against intervention from the police. All over France support groups are proliferating. Many of the individuals involved are farmers or rural residents. In Loches, they are not only concerned about the airport, but even closer to home, the future of the grand 19th century Palais de justice (courthouse) in Loches, the sous-préfectural (county services) office move and the closure of Alfred de Vigny school, a lovely old building in the centre of town.
The protesters point out that the airport project will seal under concrete an area the size (2000 ha) of an average commune (local authority) in the southern Touraine, and that this land is prime agricultural land. Protests on the site have been fairly roughly dealt with by the CRS** ('violence insupportable en démocratie') and the cost of police action (€1.5M) considered unjustifiable in these straitened times.
The protesters' website is here (in French, but well worth looking at for the maps showing the scale of the project even if you don't read French).
*ZAD = Zone à Défendre. They take their name from a twist on the project's own ZAD acronym (= Zone d'Aménagement différé). In other words, rather than a Deferred Development Zone, the protesters have created a Defended Zone.
**Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité = the specialist riot and crowd control squads of the police force.
Source: La Renaissance Lochoise 19 - 25 December 2012.