Famous French Studfarms Fear Damage from Approved Waste Dump
Prestigious French stud-farms in the Orne region — the Versailles of Horse-Breeding – have lost a three-year battle to prevent a large French waste collection firm from dumping discarded automobiles at an open-air site at Nonant-le-Pin (61).
Caen Appeal Court ruled January 21 that the largest landfill site in France which lies adjacent to the Haras du Pin, one of the country’s prime horse breeding studs, can reopen despite the unfavourable outcome of a public inquiry and an earlier court-ordered closure.
Opponents of the project said the result could mean the collapse of France’s famous 190-year-old thoroughbred industry.
Horse breeders and residents alike have been mobilised for more than three years in opposition to the Nonant-le-Pin (Orne) waste dump, but appear to have lost the latest stage in the battle.
The Caen ruling means that the French firm Guy Dauphin Environnement (GDE), will be allowed to pursue its business located near the famous Haras du Pin, one of the cradles of French stud breeding. The operation had been blockaded by protestors for several months until police removed them in October 2014.
More than 16 court and other legal actions have been mounted by GDE over the period of the protests in a bid to secure the operation of the waste dump:
— FrontRésistance Orne (@frorne) January 26, 2015
The horse breeders have set up a website detailing the issues and why they are so strongly opposed to the waste plant.
GDE, a leading industrial recycling operator, was sentenced May 13, 2014 at the Argentan Criminal Court to a 10 000 euro fine and ordered to close the landfill after the court found it had illegally stored 1,856 tons of waste there.
Supported by the International Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders (ITBF), the French horse world has been fighting the project for three years after permission for it to open was given despite the unfavourable outcome of a public inquiry.
The breeders claim the dump is designed to become the largest open-air waste storage site for crushed vehicles in France. The plan is to dump 2.5 million tons of automobile waste on farm lands less than 500m from the center of the small village of Nonant. They say this will bring with it the risk of air and soil pollution as well as having a negative impact on the rural idyll where some 160 stud farms are located.
According to a report on the Thoroughbred Daily News website the opposition groups have spent more than 1 million euros in legal fees on the fight, “much of which was donated by local farmers and the horse industry–both Standardbred and Thoroughbred–and through an auction of donated stallion seasons”.
During a November 3 court hearing, GDE acknowledged that it was wrong to have dumped 1,856 tonnes of waste , including discarded car tyres, on the site and its lawyer Maître Louis Narito Harada, said the firm was now fully resolved ” to comply with the regulations.”
The horse breeders told told Le Parisien newspaper they were not giving up and their cause is now been championed by France’s leading Greens protestor, the MEP José Bové who holds a European parliament seat for the French Green party, the EELV.
José Bové first came to prominence for his successful dismantling of a McDonalds outlet at Millau in the Averyron in 1999. Subsequently he has lent his support to far left squatters who have blocked a new airport planned at Nantes for the past 40 years.
Following the Caen court decision José Bové called on the Minister of Environment Ségolène Royal to intervene.
Those opposing the waste site told Le Parisien they were “outraged by the unjust decision” which they called perverse and bewildering”, noting that despite the original hearing ordering the plant to close and the favourable outcome of a public inquiry, the firm had managed to overturn the ruling.
As French News Online reported in November 2012: “stud farms, horse lovers, and locals are up in arms at a waste dump that they claim will deface the bucolic landscape and possibly ruin a multi million euro horse breeding industry.
Located some 230 kms southwest of Paris in the Normandy Basin, Nonant-le-Pin (population 500) has been home to France’s top stud farms and breeders of racing thoroughbreds almost since the sport of kings was first introduced back in 1818. The Administration des Haras or state-owned stud-farm was set up at that time by Jean Baptiste Colbert, Controller General of Finance under Louis XIV, the Sun King.
Regional officials, health authorities, local residents and the horse racing fraternity are horrified at a decision initially blocked by the local prefecture but later overturned by the High Court, to allow a 50 hectare waste dump — the largest such open-air disposal site in Europe — to be built. (The company claims it will be just 23ha.) It will see an unsightly 2.4 million tonne-mountain of ferrous and non-ferrous metal, non-hazardous industrial, electric and electronic waste rise on a site just metres from the country’s leading stud farms.