Start of the fight : 06/09/2012

Fight won by : Franck

During the local council meeting of the 14th of September 2012, the Town Hall of Biarritz voted on a public service concession for the construction of an underground multi-storey car park to replace the current Beaurivage car park, as well as the construction of a panoramic elevator, linking the new Beaurivage car park to the Boulevard Prince de Galles (Basque Coast Beach). The battle against coastal artificialisation, particularly through urbanisation, has always been at the heart of Surfrider Foundation Europe’s actions, because all coastal artificialisation destroys the balance and the viability of coastal ecosystems.  As things stand, this underground car park project would damage an exceptional and fragile site. Franck, the Keeper in this battle and a volunteer at the local SFE Basque Coast Chapter, is pitting himself against its realisation and has the association’s full support.

In its current form, the Beaurivage underground car park project threatens an exceptional and fragile site, which is why we are jointly opposing its realisation. Our arguments are simple and incontrovertible.  The area is unstable and cannot support such a large-scale project without being subjected to irreversible disturbances. Moreover, the PLU (land use plan) for Biarritz protects this area and prohibits ‘any kind of land use on this soil’. Additionally, the French Law on Coastlines prohibits ‘the construction of cemented or asphalted car parking facilities’ and therefore does not authorise the extension of the existing car park (104 current spaces versus 350 spaces planned), and it points out the dangers inherent in human overcrowding of sensitive sites. What is more, the Basque Coast is surrounded by a Natura 2000 site. There are a great number of pollution risks in connection with this construction project.

To oppose the project, Franck, the Keeper, and the SFE Basque Coast Chapter of which he is a member, are organising various events to evoke public interest in this threat to the Basque Coast. On the 21st of October 2012, over 100 people got together at the ‘100 Marches’ bar to express their opposition to this project. On the 18th of November 2012, Franck organised a beach clean-up to make the local population aware of the site’s beauty and fragility. Several joint letters expressing people’s opposition to the project were sent to the Direction Départementale des Territoires et de la Mer (Departmental Authority for Territories and Seas) and to the Prefecture. As the Town Hall of Biarritz is refusing to release the report on the sub-soil investigations, a request for access to this document was sent to the Committee on Access to Administrative Documents. With the aim of informing and mobilising even larger parts of the population, Franck is currently working on a video project for which he carried out interviews with various coastal stakeholders on the French Law on Coastlines, coastal development, and the history of landslides at the Basque Coast.

The invitation to tender is now closed but no information has been released on the contractor. If you would like to oppose this project, you can sign the petition currently online.

Le Gardien

Franck is a member of the SFE Côte basque chapter.


11th of September 2012: A volunteer from the SFE Basque Coast Chapter visits the Town Hall of Biarritz with an authorisation to get access to the geotechnical study on the cliff at the Côte des Basques. She is refused access on the grounds that she did not submit an official request, and that the Town Hall then disposes of a one month time limit in which to respond.

12th of September 2012: An official demand is sent by email, addressed to Mme Catherine Meriot (member of the Mayor’s office).

14th of September 2012: Meeting of the Biarritz Town Council, during which the amendment request for the Local Urban Development Plan (PLU) is submitted to the vote, as is the public service concession for the Beaurivage car park.

October 2012: Despite repeated telephone calls by SFE, there has been no reply from the Town Hall for over a month. According to law no 78-753 from the 17th of July 1978, the authority has one month to reply to any requests for access to administrative documents. A non-response at the end of this period constitutes a tacit rejection. We can thus consider that this is the case in these circumstances.

18th of October 2012: The volunteer contacts the General Director of the Technical Services Department for Biarritz, who categorically refuses us access to the geotechnical study on the grounds that it forms part of the process for the public service concession (it will allow the Town Council to draw up a detailed brief for the construction of the potential future car park), that it is not a public document, and that SFE therefore has no more right to consult this study than any other private entity.

19th, 20th and 21st of October 2012: The Chapter holds a stall at the Lurrama exhibition, carrying out awareness-raising work and receiving a further 130 signatures for the petition.

19th of October 2012: Publication of the SFE Basque Coast Chapter’s position on the matter.

21st of October 2012: Gathering at the bar Les 100 Marches. Over 100 people take part.

24th of October 2012: An article is published in the Sud-Ouest newspaper.

31st of October 2012: Strategic meeting at SFE.

6th of November 2012: SFE contacts the different town halls and sends an official request to the agglomeration authorities, which is rejected.

7th of November 2012: Chapter meeting to talk about the actions planned for the 18/11.

8th of November 2012: The Keeper sends an email to all 38 politicians of the agglomeration, detailing SFE’s position.

9th of November 2012: The town of Biarritz presents its plans for the PLU amendments to the agglomeration council. The members of the Adour Côte Basque Agglomeration Council cast their vote on the simplified amendment procedure for the PLU with regards to the construction of the Côte des Basques underground car park. This takes place during a public meeting which anyone can attend.  Two members of the SFE Basque Coast Chapter are present.
The new PLU review procedure is being endorsed.

14th of November 2012: An email is sent out to 2,454 supporters, and an article is published on the SFE blog.

18th of November 2012: Clean-up operation of Beaurivage Beach in Biarritz: The beach and its access routes are cleaned, and a stall is held to inform citizens of SFE’s position on the Beaurivage car park: The operation is a great success!

19th of November 2012: The call for tender closes (which is the period during which constructors can submit their applications for the car park concession), and the petition is handed over (3,828 signatures).

Late 2012: The Keeper has put together short videos showing interviews with stakeholders who talk about the Loi littoral (French law on coastlines), coastal development, and the history of landslides at the Côte des Basques.

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 Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Lot et Garonne, Gironde, Landes, and Dordogne.

January 2013:

  • A letter is sent to the CADA (Commission d’Accès aux Documents Administratifs = Committee on Access to Administrative Documents) to obtain the report on the subsoil investigations, which the Town Hall is refusing to release.
  • A letter is sent to the Prefecture and the Departmental Directorate Terre Mer (‘Land and Sea’) explaining our opposition to the project and the refusal by the Town Hall to release the study on the subsoil.

September 2013: Biarritz Town Council reveals the selected contractor for the two planned car parks in Biarritz at Les Halles and the Côte des Basques. The public service concession has been awarded to the company Vinci, which is proposing to build a 350-space underground car park at the cliff. The project causes much controversy in the media as its environmental viability and economic soundness are very questionable.

28th of September 2013: The volunteers from the Surfrider Foundation Europe Basque Coast Chapter name 15 good reasons to oppose the Côte des Basques car park in their blog.

30th of September 2013: During a town council meeting, the opponents of the Côte des Basques car park project (including several Surfrider volunteers) silently assemble in front of the Town Hall to demonstrate their discontent.

Chronologie des faits

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