Paris and four other major French cities on Thursday banned the use of chemical plant protection products on their territory, joining the anti-pesticide battle launched by rural mayors in the hope of putting pressure on the government.
In the footsteps of the mayor of Langouët (west), whose decree prohibiting the use of chemical pesticides within 150 meters of dwellings has been suspended by the courts, Paris, Lille, Nantes, Grenoble and Clermont-Ferrand have signed arrested prohibiting completely and immediately the use of these products in their commune.
This decision amplifies the movement of anti-pesticide slings, now led by dozens of small rural French communities who criticize the government for its inaction in this area.
“We know the legal status of such decrees but it is for us to engage a concerted approach to change the law and contribute to the safeguarding of the invaluable heritage of biodiversity in our territories and the health of our fellow citizens”, wrote the five municipalities in a joint statement.
In the case of large cities and not rural communities housing cultures, this action is largely symbolic. The law already prohibits since 2017 the use of chemicals by communities to maintain green spaces and roads.
Even ban since January for private individuals and gardeners who can only use plant protection products of natural origin.
All that remained was private green spaces that were not open to the public, such as condominiums and land managed by companies, notably the railway company SNCF, a major user of glyphosate to weed its tracks and their immediate surroundings.
Nevertheless, the announcement of the five big cities will “help to amplify the debate,” welcomed Stéphen Kerckhove, from the NGO Agir pour l’environnement. “It’s important to understand that pesticides are not just about farmers,” he said.
“Many rural mayors have positioned themselves, but this issue is also a challenge for metropolises and urban areas. On our territory, we have industrial spaces or SNCF rights-of-way that can still be treated, “added Olivier Bianchi, Mayor of Clermont-Ferrand.
“We must protect the inhabitants of our city, it is more than a precautionary principle,” said his side to AFP Pénélope Komitès, deputy mayor of Paris.
Citing a non-public study, it estimated that the potential area in question represented about 600 hectares in the capital.
The town halls are well aware that they expose themselves, like the previous ones, to recourse of the prefects before the administrative justice. But their approach is also political. To “bend the government,” insisted Stéphane Baly, president of the group of elected ecologist in Lille.
In response to this slinging wind, the government planned to set the minimum distance between houses and pesticide application areas at 5 to 10 meters depending on crops, but environmentalists and associations denounced minimalist measures.
Minister of Environmental Transition Elisabeth Borne joked on Thursday about the announcement of the five major cities, citing on Twitter a “#coupdecom”.
The ministry was surprised by the desire to “bend the government” from large cities “quite disconnected from the realities of pesticide problems for rural and agricultural communities.”
“There are pesticides in big cities, there is a problem in the heart of the city. This is not anecdotal, “said Florence Presson, deputy mayor of Sceaux (Paris suburbs), on behalf of the Collective of mayors anti-pesticides.
Tuesday, elected officials and activists had called the mayors of France to multiply the anti-pesticide orders and to “overwhelm” the online consultation launched by the government, which has already collected more than 11,000 comments since Monday.
According to them, 54 urban or rural communes, as well as the department of Val-de-Marne adjacent to Paris, have taken such orders, without counting the five new cities.
Many appeals have been filed by the prefects.