Pouillon, France


The fight surrounding 'Gaz des Salins' (gas storage in salt caverns) began in the winter of 2011. EDF were planning to dig out huge cavities in the saline soil around Pouillon, in order to use them for the storage of natural gas. The main issue, around which the engagement of the Sud-Landes Chapter evolved, was the construction of a 40 km long two-way canal connecting the site with the ocean, which would have passed through Natura 2000 protected zones, through ground water supplies, and under coastal sand dunes. Its purpose was the transportation of the water necessary for the creation of the cavities, which would then have become saturated in salt brine and discharged back into the ocean, in quantities and frequencies which would have seriously affected the surrounding ecosystem.

Martine, Keeper of the Coast and representative of the SFE Sud-Landes Chapter, attended several meetings as part of the public debate. The chapter also presented a stakeholder's guide, which highlights the very real environmental risks of such a project. In the summer of 2012, a petition was presented to the Sub-Prefecture of the Landes Region. The French President and concerned Ministers were called upon by mail and asked to cancel the project.

For nearly a year, the Keeper and the citizen collective 'Stockage-Gaz Landes' led a constant and sustained fight against the EDF project. They managed to dominate the media stage through various informative meetings, communication campaigns, and interviews with journalists. During the 2012 summer season, they ran an extensive multilingual communication campaign aimed at all tourists visiting the region. In July 2012, the MEP for the southwest of France, Catherine Grèze, announced her support for the Keeper and the collective, and promised to appeal to the European Commission with regards to the passage of the brine duct through fragile and protected areas.

In August 2012, Eurosima (cluster of board sport companies) joined the opposition to the project and disseminated a sticker reading 'NO to the Brine Duct'. On the 30th of September, the collective, the SFE Sud-Landes Chapter, and fishermen from Capbreton organised a happening at the Quiksilver Pro France (event on the ASP World Surfing Tour) to demonstrate their opposition to the project. On the 2nd of November 2012, the SFE Sud-Landes Chapter set up a viewing of the film 'Disappearance of the Landais Surfer'. From the 3rd to the 6th of November, a free exhibition was held in Seignosse to raise public awareness in an original way: Under the slogan 'Surfing Arts by Shaper', this event inspired to 'imagine, invent a new language, to think of a surf board from a different perspective, and to create, rather than recreate'.

On the 13th of January 2013, the President of the Landes Regional Council, Henri Emmanuelli, officially announced the cancellation of the project. Studies showed that its profitability was very uncertain and that its economic interest was not pervasive enough. As there was no alternative solution, the project was finally abandoned.

The 'Gaz des Salins' battle was at the heart of a conference at the Surfrider Campus.

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