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(new) callout for occupation

Sunday 14 October 2012

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Notre Dame Des Landes, ZAD, October 2012, (new) callout for occupation

For the last two generations the threat of an airport project has loomed over 1600 hectares of farmland just north of Nantes. Suspended for a long time, the project was relaunched in 2001 by Lionel Jospin and firmly sustained ever since by the Socialist Party and notably by Jean Marc Ayrault, the former deputy mayor of Nantes and current Prime Minister. The reasons given for building the airport have been constantly evolving, the latest joke being to build a ‘HQE’ airport (high environmental quality). This useless and harmful project is a symbol of a destructive capitalism whose only goal is financial profit. It is also the fruit of the collective work of politicians greedy for urban ’development’ and a multinational, Vinci, which specializes in destructive projects (prisons, motorways, nuclear power stations).

In 2008 a local collective, residents who resist, launched a call out to occupy the lands concerned by this project, this ’Zone d’Aménagement Différée’ (zone for deferred development). This call out was widely spread and after a Climate Action Camp in 2009 the occupation movement started to grow throughout what is now the ’Zone A Défendre’ (zone to defend) - the ZAD. Solidarity was born between the residents who resist and the new occupants.

Now the Socialist Party has come to power again and they are not prepared to give up the airport project. They continue to show their full support for the project despite their Green allies always pretending to defend this threatened land. These spin doctors have ably used the press to make us believe that the project has been suspended by a moratorium and that the risk of its completion are diminished. (1)

It’s not true at all. The preliminary measures are still in place: pseudo public enquiries, studies of the terrains (drillings, surveyors). The provisional work schedule has possibly, we hope, been challenged by the occupation but not by the moratorium! Anyway the motorway, an indispensible preliminary measure to start concreting over the area, is still set for early 2013. To let this happen is to allow the diggers to arrive, it is to give in to Vinci.

The ZAD is being emptied all the time, and the expropriations continue. The residents are being pushed out of the area to be rehoused elsewhere and in worse conditions. Those who resist gradually find themselves without rights for the houses in which they have lived for years, in some cases all their lives. As for the occupied land and houses the situation is no better. Many are evictable and have already had demolition permits since early 2012. The judicial machine continues. On the 27th September 2012 the District Court of Nantes announced the immediate eviction of Le Sabot and Les 100 Chênes. They are two essential sites on the ZAD; the collective vegetable garden (an occupation initiated by the Reclaim the Fields movement) and the ZAD bakery. These two sites are inhabited. In early October the last squat in Grandchamps was also evicted. Every day the threat becomes more real, and we need to react! Vinci dreams of evicting us all, perhaps tomorrow, and if we let that happen the area will soon be full of machines.

Even if we see occupation as a means of struggle, we feel now fully residents of this area. We refuse to see these fields, hedges and woods disappear. They have become our living spaces. To live here means to stand against the destruction, in the name of profit, of the oaks that shelter us, the great crested newts and numerous other animals we share the area with. To live here is also to be in a rhythm interrupted by unexpected confrontations, pressures, uncertainty of the next phase, harassment from the cops. It is not so easy to live here at the moment with the cold and rainy winter ahead. Whether an owner, tenant or occupant we are all set to face the same procedures, their ‘justice’. And yet … the ZAD has become a hub of alternative experiences, a place to confront theory and practice each day, to create new solidarities, towards autonomy from this consumer system. The collective gardens have flourished, and knowledge is being shared all the time. From bakery to mechanics, from construction to artistic interchange, we are constantly learning from each other.

If we are making another call out for people who wish to join us and live here it’s because we think that this struggle concerns everyone: it isn’t just about an urbanistic project but a whole model of society that we don’t want. It’s because this struggle is part of a bigger fight against a liberal economic system which is damaging to people and the planet. Elsewhere other people are fighting against the productivist systems, domination and social control, against the infernal machine that enslaves us with technology to go forever faster and further from the possession of our own lives. We don’t feel alone resisting. From Val Di Susa in Italy, through Russia or Serbia, opponents stand against other harmful development projects. Closer to here in the Basque Country against a high speed train line or in Normandy against the THT lines (super high tension electricity lines), there is resistance all over the world against the gentrification : and it’s getting organized!

Here, on the ZAD, we need more people on the land to be able to physically resist the preliminary works, to give strength to those who have made the choice to stay and resist. The occupation is not an end in itself, it is a way of being present at this struggle to be active together against the project, to develop the solidarity networks with the other residents. Together we feel ready for anything, to fight the coalition of political power with its cops and economic power with its cash.

At the moment, more than thirty places are squatted, houses, cabins built in the fields, treehouses, and caravans which are scattered all over. There are still empty houses, and Vinci is emptying more. Two places, Les Planchettes et la Gaité [2] invite people to stay temporarily on arrival, but try to be as autonomous as possible as soon as possible. Once here, take time to talk to people and get to know the struggle. Here everything is possible to imagine, we can do anything but not just any old thing any old how. Think about the fact that many projects are already underway, and be aware of sensitivities and different experiences of people.

Come and struggle with us here! We are here and we refuse to lose.

This callout was written by some occupants and residents of the ZAD.

In postscript we would like to remind you that there are other forms of support possible :

-  Vinci can be targeted wherever it is (more or less everywhere!), do decentralized actions and keep us informed
-  A reoccupation demo is planned in response to likely upcoming evictions. Be ready to join us!
-  Keep up to date with the following sites:,

you can write to us at and inscribe to our mailing list on the website (click on access and contact)

notes [1] read on the ZAD website the article Moratorium on the Airport: a farce that does not make us laugh. Excerpts: ‘even to suspend the evictions of the farmers and legal residents in the area concerned by the Declaration of Public Utility until 2014 doesn’t stop the plans of the state or the airport in any way. All in all it’s an agreement that doesn’t undermine heavy work or preliminary studies or expropriations or most of the evictions’ [2] see the access and contact tab on the ZAD website