the ZAD

40,000 form human chain around the ZAD


If any more proof is needed that direct action works, take a trip to Nantes in western France.

Fifteen or so miles outside the city, the regional authority backed by the French national government, has been trying to build “Nantes International” Airport. It claims it is required to replace the single runway airport in the city in order to attract investment into the area. The opponents commissioned their own study which refuted those claims. They also point out that Nantes is just a little over two hours by fast train from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The new airport is dismissed as little more than an ego project of the former major of Nantes, Jean-Marc Ayrault, now the Prime Minister of France. It has been dubbed ‘Ayrauoport’.

Last weekend (11th May) I was one of the 40,000 or so people who formed a 25 kilometre-long human chain around the site of the airport. The huge numbers have been inspired by the direct action of last winter. During the winter months there were tear-gas battles in the woods as police fought to remove hundreds of young protesters who had set up make-shift homes in support of the local community.  The courage of the protesters from the self-styled ZAD as they resisted the police in the bitter cold and driving rain of last winter both cemented their support in the local community and inspired people from around France and beyond.

Now there are support groups, called “committees”, in 200 towns and cities.  Each group stages demonstrations in their own towns and lobbies politicians in their own areas in support of the Nantes campaigners. Hardly a week goes by without one of the committees cycling or walking through France to the site of the proposed airport. Last weekend on my way back from the protest I spied a billboard in Le Mans– over 100 miles from Nantes– opposing the airport.

The ZAD resistance followed on from the 28 day hunger strike staged last year during the presidential election campaign by four peasant farmers against the plan to evict them from their properties. 

The local community has fought a great campaign over the years – and recently won an important court case in the courts where the judge ruled that the airport’s promoters had failed to carry out proper flood plain and environmental assessments of the project, as required by the European Union.  The campaigners believe that the ruling from the court may provide a way for the Government to drop the airport and save face. But the reason the Government is under so much pressure is because of the way that direct action – the hunger strikes and the resistance from ZAD – electrified support from across France. No wonder there was such a carnival atmosphere last Saturday. We were holding hands around an airport that will probably now never be built.

Latest video from the ZAD


This is a hugely evocative video of protests against new Nantes Airport. Farmers, activists & residents campaigning together.

The date for everyones diaries is May 11th when they are planning their biggest mass action ever and are looking to get 100,000 people (remember they got 40,000 last year) to symbolically surround the land that would be needed for the airport.

All info here with translation to English:

Tens of thousands re-occupy the ZAD


On Saturday Le Monde reported that an incredible 25,000 activists took direct action to reoccupy the site of a proposed airport in Nantes, France.

Some protesters had been evicted from their squats. The amazing reoccupation united local farmers who risk losing their land with climate activists and thousands of protesters concerned about cost, pollution and noise.

We have been inspired by the passionate grassroots support for local people’s struggle to take their lives into their own hands and say, “no” to an unaffordable, polluting airport being built on their homes and farms. Check out these beautiful photos of the ZAD and you’ll wish you were there too.

For more information about the ZAD, visit

This blog was re-posted from the Transition Heathrow website.

Call for a re-occupation demonstration at the ZAD


Have your pitchforks, timber, nails and tools to hand... A meet on the morning of the 17 November at Zone A Défendre" (the "ZAD," the site of the planned airport) Notre-Dame des Landes for a re-occupation demonstration has been called for. 

The planned assembly point and directions to the campsite for the eve of the action will be announced later. Please consult the ZAD website regularly:

The struggle against the proposed airport at Notre-Dame des Landes has continually intensified over the last few years. Among other actions, an occupation movement has taken over the threatened buildings and woods. Last year, confronted with the increasing threat to the various houses, huts, and kitchen gardens, the inhabitants of the ZAD and their supporting collectives called for a reoccupation demonstration in the event of evictions.

On Tuesday 16 October, the long feared police attack began. The 1800 hectares of the ZAD were invaded by 1200 police. Little by little, they attacked the occupied houses and huts, destroying them, and scrupulously removing all of the debris from the zone in order that nothing that might serve the occupiers be left behind. The occupiers and those that came to support them resisted, built barricades, reoccupied. Together, we did what we had to do to obstruct the machines of destruction and block police movements...

Determination has been increased by the huge wave of solidarity from all over France and beyond: daily demonstrations in Nantes and other cities, material support of supplies and food, and actions targeting Parti Socialist and Vinci offices, those airport builders and destroyers of our lives. Though most of the houses have already been evicted, as well as some of the huts, many other occupiers remain, spread out across the woods and fields, and in the trees. New constructions have already been begun.

Apart from the occupiers, the "legal" inhabitants and farmers continue to be threatened. They will also be forced to leave the ZAD in the coming months. In other words, this supersized eviction attempt is here to stay. Those great wits at the Prefecture code-named their military eviction operation "Caesar." It is for us to prove that the resistance to the airport is indeed "implacable" and that they will eventually be defeated and ridiculed.


At Notre-Dames des Landes, the decision-makers and developers have been planning a new airport to perfect their vision of a vast metropolis in endless economic growth. Their plan is to obliterate 2000 hectares of agricultural land and homes with concrete. This ZAD, "Zone d’Aménagement Différé" (Special Planning Zone) devenue "Zone A Défendre." (Zone of resistance) is 25km north of Nantes. There has been organised resistance to the project since the beginning.

This campaign is at the intersection of issues over which we all must unite and devise collective strategies. These issues include the struggle against the drip feeding of over-refined foods, the industrial society and the consequent global warming, the policy of economic development, the control of the territory, urban sprawl, the conformity of each person’s existence, the privatisation of public space, the myth of endless growth, and the illusion of democratic participation...

The opponents of the airport remain as opposed to its construction as ever. The campaign against it continues with demonstrations, legal action, links with other campaigns, hunger strikes, distribution of newspapers, disruption of motorway toll booths, opposition to land surveys, sabotage, interruptions to environmental and archaelogical surveys, occupations of offices and workplaces, etc...

‘We live here, we’re staying here!’


Over the past three days, French riot police have been violently evicting inhabitants at The ZAD, that is to say those who are defending the vast area around Nantes which has been earmarked for a new airport.

For years, hundreds of activists have joined locals by moving onto this 1,600 hectare area of rich agricultural land in order to defend it from the threat of a proposed new Nantes airport. Yet in the name of the ‘public good’, over 1,000 riot police began a siege of the area earlier this week. In a bid to clear the ZAD to make way for a new airport, the French authorities have been forcibly removing people from their homes. They arrived armed with helicopters, riot vans, and trucks (to carry away the bricks from the houses they’d destroyed!). Through the use of tear gas, arrest, and the occasional act of arson (on Wednesday, eye witnesses report having seen police burning down someone’s home without even confirming first that it was empty), the riot cops have been violently evicting residents at the ZAD.

The fight against a new Nantes airport has been a high profile affair in France. During the general elections, two local farmers went on a 28 day hunger strike after having been threatened with compulsory purchase orders on the land their families had farmed for generations. The struggle at Nantes has attracted international attention too; in July this year people from all over Europe arrived at the ZAD for the European Forum Against Useless Projects.

Many homes have been evicted at over the last three days to make way for a ‘secure’ zone on the land around the proposed new airport. Yet the activists and locals currently remain in force and are trying to take back the land. Three houses and many fields are still occupied by ZAD residents, who have been joined by supporters and activists from far and wide. The battle is on, and there’s everything to fight for.

If you can get down there to help defend the ZAD, or if you want to send a message of support, you can contact them at

ZAD website:

ZAD Facebook page:

Plane Stupid takes a visit to the ZAD


Isn't the countryside noisy? The life which reverberates all around you in Notre Dame des Landes is astounding, a reminder of the world we have to save. The crickets never stop singing, every time you sit still some weird and wonderful new bug crawls across your leg, and the sides of the roads are packed with wild roses, bluebells, and forget-me-nots. But it's all under threat.

The government of France is locked into an unholy alliance that is depressingly familiar. Here, as in Sipson, Hasty Lane, Essex and Edinburgh, the aviation industry has coaxed our "representatives" with its oily tendrils into a belief that the destruction of lives, habitats and the planet for profit is in the best interests of all.
The plan? Concrete over 2000 hectares of some of the most pristine biodiversity in France, taking away homes and communities, condemning local residents to a future of poor health and sleepless nights.
The aim? Two runways and two motorways, making Notre Dames des Landes into Europe's most westerly hub, taking over some of Heathrow's stopover capacity. All this, even as smaller airports around France and the UK are being forced to close due to a lack of demand. The hell-bent determination of the industry fixated on growth is not only morally criminal, its economically nonsensical.

But the resistance is growing. Since Plane Stupid last visited the ZAD (Zone a Defendre - the proposed site of the airport), the number of occupied spaces has rocketed from one to about 16. In fact, no one seems entirely sure how many people are now living here, preparing for battle: all that is certain is that it is growing constantly and people are prepared to put up a big fight. Together with those set to lose their homes and land, activists from across France and the world have been taking over sites bought up by the council to make way for the airport, and transforming them into living examples of the world they want to live in. There's a bakery, which turns out enough bread twice a week to feed the whole ZAD, a bicycle workshop, a skipped supermarket which seems never to run out, a kitchens collective, an internet cafe, loads of chickens, herb gardens, treehouses, and, of course, vegetables.

This weekend we came to help open a new site, where our friend from Reclaim the Fields are reclaiming the runway. At 9 a.m. we gathered at Les Planchettes, the HQ of the ZAD where the main meetings and info point are based in a beautiful old farmhouse. The spectacle was extraordinary: about 350 people carrying machetes, pitchforks, scythes and spades, riding in tractors and trucks or walking alongside, many with masks on to hide their identities from the skulking gendarme who accompanied us at a distance. The sound system and the samba band competed for airtime, as banners were hoisted up between trees across the roads we walked down proclaiming the resistance.

Finally we reached the soon-to-be site - a seemingly impenetrable wall of brambles - and while some of us grabbed a quick glass of 30cent vin rouge from the rapidly assembled bar, the tractors belonging to local farmers rolled onto the field, crushing the brambles top to make way for our machetes. Like an army of ants, the people fanned out across the area, some hacking back the undergrowth, some trimming the trees, others turning the soil and pulling up the roots, and others scraping everything together into huge mounds ready for burning. Then almost as quickly as they had descended. the swarm pulled back, leaving the 8 people who will live there with a large plot of cultivable land ready for planting. Resistance is fertile.

So many lives and hopes are embedded in this beautiful area. Our hosts, Paul and Elizabeth, have been fighting the coming of the airport for decades. They will not sell their home, with their chickens and horse and amazing rhubarb jam, to be flattened for profit. Paul sends his solidarity to Sipson, which he visited in 2009 and describes as "une belle quartier" of which he's got many fond memories - especially the pub. From the people living 15 metres up in their beautiful fortified tree camp, to those who stand to lose generations of history on the land, the communities here stand side by side in their struggle and in ours.

The governments and corporations complicit in this campaign of demolition and disappropriation must be stopped. We will continue to strengthen out grassroots links with the people here, and will not let the bulldozers roll. BTP (Battiments Travaux Publiques) and Vinci, the key players in this ransack, have operations across Europe - including numerous subsidiaries in the UK. Vinci reckons they are "convinced of the need to adopt a responsible attitude to climate change" - their plans for the ZAD are so far from "responsible" it's hard even to laugh. Both groups should be targeted wherever they try to establish themselves, and made to realise that their involvement in the attempts to destroy Notre Dame des Landes will make them an enemy of the global resistance.