Gironde, France


In 2008, the Town Hall of Andernos-les-Bains announced plans to extend their marina. For an additional 150 moorings, this project would decimate the wooded beach of Betey by a third. 70 trees would have to be felled, threatening an entire ecosystem and one of the last sentinels of those forests with their 'feet in the water' of the Aquitaine Coast.  Such a project could also entail an increase in noise levels, as well as various other nuisances such as water pollution, shifts in the coastline, and increased turbidity.

A symbolic beach funeral was organised in September 2009 between the association Le Betey, Plage Boisée à Sauvegarder (Preserve the Wooded Beach of Le Betey) and the SFE Gironde Chapter. In July 2011, Surfrider participated in the public inquiry, the results of which - published in September 2011 - supported a revision of the Local Urban Development Plan (PLU). The local council voted on the new PLU in October 2011, confirming the marina and pier extension. In the wake of this decision, eleven law suits were filed at the Administrative Tribunal in Bordeaux.

Mobilisation around this fight has been strong, with over 3,000 signatories of the petition, which was launched by the association and the Keeper, Clarisse. In June 2012, Clarisse gained the support of the Green MEP Catherine Grèze, who declared that Le Betey was the last wooded beach of the Arcachon Basin and that it should be protected from the port extension project. In September 2012, the Keeper met with a delegation from the Town Hall to introduce her plans on planting more pine trees, and the delegation announced its willingness to work with the association to try and find common ground.

The public inquiry took place between the 4th of February and the 8th of March 2013. Clarisse and SFE wrote an address against the port extension project for this occasion. Moreover, on the 14th of February 2013, the Keeper delivered a petition with over 3,000 signatures and 1,500 post cards (pictorial versions of the petition) to the township. The association Le Betey, Plage Boisée à Sauvegarder also organised informative meetings and Ocean Initiatives, to make the residents of Andernos-les-Bains and of the Arcachon Basin aware of the importance to protect this unique and ancient wood. The investigating commissioner gave their verdict in April 2013, which was unfavourable to the port extension and in Jully, the Administrative Tribunal canceled the Local Urbanism Plan because of its illegality. Nevertheless, the Mayor of Andernos-les-Bains immediately announced his intention to modify the initial project by taking into account the recommendations collected in the report from the public inquiry, with a view to conduct further investigations. Clarisse and SFE hence remain vigilant.

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