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North of the town of Saint Jean de Luz on the Basque coast, the town hall is preparing to sell a 4 hectare site to allow the company Boardriders (Quiksilver, Roxy, Billabong brands ...) to build a giant surf park… 1.5 km from the ocean and natural waves!
SUMMARY OF THE SITUATION
Alerted by a press article at the beginning of summer 2020 and the posting of a petition (to date signed by nearly 70,000 people), local associations quickly got to work to inform and mobilize. Starting with the organization of a public meeting at the cinema of Guéthary, September 28th and engaging with numerous contacts with the local and national press.
It was a matter of quickly creating a consensus against the project so that the investors necessary for its realization would hesitate to commit.
From an administrative point of view, only the Local Urban Plan has been amended to date (November 18, 2020) to make the land available for construction. Neither the architectural project nor the environmental impact survey has been published.
The collective Paddle For Your Planet - which made itself known in 2019 by organizing paddle outs in the ocean to mobilize surfers and make the voice of the ocean heard - took the lead together with Surfrider's Cote Basque chapter.
To present their arguments, they launched a website to visit HERE. That gives 24 economic, ecological or surf related reasons to say NO, NOT IN MY NAME, signed by the biggest names in French surfing (Léa Brassy, Antoine and Edouard Delpero, Justine Mauvin, Vincent Duvignac, Lee Ann Curren ...) and by thousands of anonymous surfers. A way of saying loud and clear: "you want to build a wave pool for us, but we don't want one!".
The project would destroy a meadow - with a view of the ocean - in which donkeys and horses live and a century-old natural forest to build a triangular-shaped basin of 155 m each side, as well as 1,500 m2 of offices and shops. (Including clothing shops, bar, restaurant, and hotel with 75 to 100 rooms). The buildings are planned on 3 to 4 levels in height. For the function of the park, a technical building for machinery and maintenance, a road, a parking lot of about 500 spaces, as well as the redevelopment of the portion of the road serving this site.
According to data from the manufacturer, the company Wavegarden, which communicated on an equivalent project planned for Castets in les Landes, the basin and the adjoining lagoon will contain 37,000 m3 of water that will have to be filtered daily and renewed once a year by dumping them into the municipal network and the local wastewater treatment plant (which is already non-standard since 2012). Without counting on the hundreds of m3 of water to be added every day to compensate for natural evaporation.
In addition, a surf park consumes energy to create waves. 1.6 kWh for a small wave (1.2 m for 10 s), three times as much for a 1.5 m wave for 15 s and the numbers continue to increase exponentially for larger waves. Knowing that a French household of 4 people (2 adults and two children) consumes 13.7 kWh per day, each surfer uses the electricity of three families per day for a one hour session on medium-sized waves. Not to mention the energy needed for shops, offices, the hotel and the water filtration system, which further doubles daily needs.
An association of residents has appointed a lawyer to exploit a potential administrative loophole to have the availability of construction of the land concerned canceled.
Scientists around the world are alerting us every day to the harmful impact of human activities on ecosystems and the ongoing catastrophe of global warming. There is an urgent need to stop projects that are disconnected from the environmental issues we are facing today.
We don't want that concrete pool and its artificial bleach waves. We want the forest to remain as it is and that part of the meadow will be made available to a market gardener to produce vegetables in a short circuit that could supply, for example, certain restaurants in the town, without forgetting an educational dimension with the reception of schoolchildren in the field.