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THE ADMINISTRATIVE AND REGULATORY STAGES COME TO AN END

Declaration of project as a Public Interest Project - March 2012 :

The project was declared to be a Public Interest Project on 7th March 2012. This was an important step in the procedure, essential for the project to be carried out, notably regarding the construction of the structure to be built in the Public Maritime Zone.
On 11th October 2013, the Administrative Court of Saint Denis rejected the application made by the Alliance against the Declaration of the Public Interest Project.

Authorisation to occupy the DPM (Public Maritime Zone) - October 2013

After consulting the public and the relevant bodies (navigation, maritime affairs, local government bodies) and after receiving the approval of the Commissioner in charge of the enquiry, three distinct and complementary decrees issued by the Prefecture were signed by the Prefect on 22nd October 2013.

These decrees authorise and determine the uses to be made of the DPM (Public Maritime Zone), essential for work to be carried out (a concession for temporary use of the DPM granted for the duration of the construction), as well as for immersion of artificial reefs (compensatory measures) and they also transfer to the Regional Council the management of the sections of the DPM where the dikes will be placed, to enable upkeep of the latter.

Compliance with the ‘Water Law’ - September/October 2013

On 26th September, having been given the approval of the Commissioner in charge of the enquiry following the public enquiry, the Departmental Council for the Environment and Technological and Health Risks, which includes representatives of the French State, local government bodies, professional bodies involved and associations for environmental protection, also approved the request made by the Regional Council. The local water committee for the west of the island (CLEO), after being asked to take a decision on the issue, also declared itself in favour of the project.

Following these decisions, on 25th October 2013, the Prefect signed a decree giving the Regional Council authorisation for the project of the New Coastal Road in respect of the regulations on water and the water environment, referred to as the ‘Water Law’.

The decree examines and details the proposals contained in the request by the Regional Council. As a result, under the control of a dedicated monitoring committee and scientific committee, the Regional Council must respect the relatively ambitious objectives and results in order to avoid, reduce and compensate for the impacts and commit itself as regards its obligations in respect of the means employed to guarantee the conditions under which the work will be carried out, in order to ensure respect of the environment.

As an example, during the construction phase, important measures will be taken to reduce underwater noise and the effects of the latter on marine mammals. Previous to each phase of noisy construction, the contracting authority will make sure that there are no marine mammals present in the affected zone and the companies involved must then proceed to increase noise produced gradually, in order to prevent mammals from coming back into a zone where they would be at risk of undergoing physiological damage. To respect the very strict thresholds defined, companies will apply important technical means (underwater acoustic screens to reduce sources of noise etc.). The acoustic thresholds that must be respected have been fixed by regulations that are among the most stringent in the world (German regulations).

Authorisation for construction linked to proximity of historical monuments (Caserne Lambert in Saint Denis and former isolation hospital of La Grande Chaloupe) -December 2013

Exceptions for protected species : a compulsory public consultation phase in accordance with the law - currently being carried out

The project of the New Coastal Road will have an impact on certain protected species (notably marine fauna) which, as a result of their sensitive nature, are on the list drawn up by the French State. Destruction and intentional disturbance of individuals and habitats of these species are forbidden.

The Regional Council of Reunion has therefore submitted an application to obtain exceptions, in accordance with the strict conditions set out in the French Environmental Code (article L. 4112).

The request submitted is the fruit of meticulous environmental studies, carried out by the most competent local and national experts, aimed at determining the optimal conditions for carrying out construction work, while respecting the sensitivity of the environment, the species concerned and their habitats. These species have been the object of the studies covering their complete biological cycle (over one year of inventories and specific research) and detailed work on the eco-design of structures to be built, in order to avoid and as far as possible reduce the negative effects of construction and of the project once it has been completed. Following the studies, ambitious measures adapted to the challenges were defined, in order to compensate for the effects, which cannot be totally reduced and avoided.

The many discussions organised by the Regional Council with the local bodies concerned (institutions, associations etc.) made it possible to enrich and extend the field of investigations. The Regional Council also held a number of meetings aimed at defining and determining the extent of compensatory measures that will be effective and relevant. These many exchanges undoubtedly contributed to the quality of the applications filed requesting exceptions to measures concerning protected species. To respond to the negative reaction of the scientific bodies consulted by the French State, the Regional Council also drew up an important study in response to this reaction, accompanied by a proposal for important new measures to be taken concerning land environments.

These detailed studies, the serious character of which is uncontested, conclude that the three conditions necessary for the exceptions to be issued have been met. These conditions are :

  • The imperative necessity of a major Public Interest Project ;
  • Absence of satisfactory alternative solutions ;
  • The fact that despite the impact on the local level, exceptions do not have a negative effect on the preservation of populations in their natural habitats and in an acceptable state of conservation.

Since 1st September 2013 and following a decree issued by the Constitutional Council, placing an obligation on the French State to revise the procedures for issuing exceptions concerning protected species, decisions are not issued until there has been a phase of consulting the public.

All the above information was made available to the public over a period of one month and could be consulted on the website of the Prefecture. Members of the public were able to obtain information about these issues and make comments concerning application for exceptions. The public consultation ended on 30th November 2013. Following the consultation and after a compulsory minimum period of three days, the French State will issue its final decision concerning these exceptions regarding protected species.