Start of the fight : 12/03/2013

Closing date of the file : 13/01/2013

Fight won by : Martine

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.

Le Gardien

Martine is the representative of the SFE Sud-Landes Chapter.


September 2011: Meeting between EDF and SFE. The Keeper Martine meets with the President and another member of the CPDP (French Professional Oil Committee).

October 2011 – January 2012: Public consultation.  SFE submits a stakeholder’s guide and the Keeper participates in all the meetings of this public consultation.

December 2011: The petition is launched.

January 2012:

  • A call for mobilisation is sent to the SFE local network.
  • A gathering is organised in Messanges (700 people get mobilised);
  • Talks with members of EuroSIMA, which join our stakeholder’s guide: “The major European board sports industries based in the Aquitaine Region are getting mobilised”.

March 2012: The special commission for public consultations delivers its position, which turns out to be more of a summary of the public consultation.  It is noted, however, that there are more opponents than supporters of the project, making for a tense debate.
An email is sent out to our members and supporters in several Departments (Landes, Dordogne, Gironde, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Lot et Garonne), informing them of developments in the battle (stakeholder’s guide, mobilisation, participation in the public consultation meetings, etc.) and inviting them to an event of conference and debates followed by a concert on the 1st of April 2012.

1st of April 2012: Conference, debates and concert: The Sud-Landes Chapter runs a stall throughout the day where it offers information and answers questions from the public. Grégory Le Moigno, Head of Programme for Heritage and Waves, delivers a speech on the environment and environmentalism.

April 2012:

  • The MP J-Pierre Dufau announces his opposition to the project.
  • A motion is voted on and passed (unanimously but one abstention) by the association of communes Maremne Adour Côte Sud (MACS).
  • The President of the Landes General Council Henri Emmanuelli informs us that he will protect all of the Landes cultural heritage and all related socio-economic aspects.
  • Talks with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) give us reasonable grounds to believe that they will shift their position under the pressure of several federations which are extremely hostile to the project, and in the light of recent positions from local politicians.
  • Peggy Kançal, Regional Councillor for the Landes, agrees to pass on the indignation of the Landais residents to the Regional Council of Aquitaine, and to bring up the issue at the regional assembly.
  • The petition reaches the 10,000 signature mark.

June 2012:

On the 2nd and 9th of June, a stall is held within the covered market area in Dax, aiming at calmly passing on our concerns and informing the public on the issue.

The Ministry of Ecology signs a circular (with immediate implementation), giving the go-ahead for the establishment of a European Natura 2000 network at sea. This is bad news for EDF, who are planning to dump their salt brine into our beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

6th of June 2012: EuroSIMA officially announce their support and join us in the battle.

19th of June 2012: The project owner EDF, having the option to join forces with the Russian energy giant Gazprom, decides to pursue its project despite the strong opposition. In a press release, EDF maintains that “the results from the ongoing test drillings are expected at the end of this year and will determine whether or not we will launch the next stage”.

Summer 2012:

  • Catherine Grèze, MEP for the south-west and passing through Pouillon, appeals to the European Commission against the EDF project with regards to the effects it is likely to have on the sensitive and protected areas.
  • Creation of a new association for the ‘Sauvegarde du Patrimoine Naturel Landais à Pouillon’ (Protection of the Landais Natural Heritage in Pouillon), which will fight locally against the EDF project.
  • The French President and concerned Ministers are approached by letter by the citizen collective, and are invited to give their opinions on the case.
  • The Chapter and the citizen collective design posters, which are mounted at the entrance to every beach, as well as informative displays translated into English, German, and Spanish, which are sent to the tourist offices. This campaign receives the support of Mr Kerrouche, representing the association of communes MACS, and Mr Bouyrie, Vice-President of the Landes General Council, President of the Departmental Tourism Committee, and Mayor of Messanges.

18th of July 2012: A delegation made up of representatives from the citizen collective and from different associations including the Surfrider Sud Landes Chapter is received by the Sub-Prefect of the Landes Department. Their objective is to submit our petition and to claim the right to take part in any future consultations as citizen representatives, ensuring that the wish of the population to see this project cancelled is fully taken into account.

19th of July 2012: Report on the TV channel TF1 featuring the Keeper.

August 2012: EuroSIMA produces stickers which display “NON” (NO) in large letters, aiming to incite the public to sign the petition against the EDF Gas Storage project.

5th of September 2012: (Article in the Sud-Ouest newspaper) H. Emmanuelli meets with EDF managers and asks them to search out an alternative solution to their current plans to discharge salt brine into the ocean along the Landes coast, as this is incompatible with the Department’s image as a tourist destination.

8th of September 2012: The statement by Henri Emmanuelli somewhat modifies the Collective’s battle plan. They hastily organise a meeting to respond to the request printed in the Sud-Ouest. A statement is being issued by the Collective and the Keeper.

24th of September 2012: Distribution of leaflets by the Collective.

28th of September 2012: Video production aiming to assist local initiatives.

30th of September 2012: The Collective, the Sud Landes Chapter and the fisher people jointly organise a happening at the Quik Pro event with the objective to raise public awareness.
The President of the Aquitaine Regional Council and of the GIP (Public Interest Grouping) Coastlines wishes to cooperate with the project opponents.

October 2012: At the Fête de la Rose in Soustons, H. Emmanuelli announces that there will be no salt brine in the Landes.  The General Council supports the project but is opposed to any discharges into the ocean.

19th of October 2012: Meeting of the Collective.

30th of October 2012: An email with invitations to the preview showing of the film is sent out to around 4,000 supporters in the Landes Department, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Department, and the Gironde Department.

2nd of November 2012: Showing of the film “Disappearance of the Landais Surfer”, which was financed through Help for Local Initiatives as part of the KOC programme (£300).  There are 80 people in the audience.

3rd to the 6th of November 2012: “Surfing Art by Shapers”: Free surfboard exhibition in Seignosse.  During this four day event, people are invited to use their imagination, invent a new language, think of a surf board from a different perspective, and to create rather than recreate. In short: to innovate.

19th of November 2012: EDF participates in a consortium, which submitted a letter of intent on Friday, 16th of November, announcing an interest in the company TIGF (operator of gas pipelines and of gas storage installations, which are being marketed by the group).

Late 2012: Publishing of the results from the latest test drillings. It is not until the end of these investigations, and after attaining the contributions from the consultation and from the administrative bodies, that EDF will make its final decision on whether or not to go ahead with the investment.

4th of December 2012: Circular email on the five flagship battles in Aquitaine led in 2012 is sent out to 4,692 supporters in the Departments Pyrenees-Atlantique, Lot et Garonne, Gironde, Landes, and Dordogne.

26th of December 2012: Preparatory vigil.

29th of December 2012: Commemorative ceremony in memory of the pointless large-scale projects which were carried out in the past, such as the gas storage in salt caverns in Capbreton.

13th of January 2013: Emmanuelli announces that the project is being cancelled. Studies show that the profitability of this project is very uncertain and that its economic interest is not pervasive enough. As there are no alternative solutions, Emmanuelli obtains the project cancellation from the CEO Henri Proglio.

Chronologie des faits

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