World In Port-la-Nouvelle, dispute surrounding the major port extension project

In Port-la-Nouvelle, dispute surrounding the major port extension project


Port-la-Nouvelle (Aude), in April 2018. RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

Turbines, hydrogen, but also petroleum and wheat. In Port-la-Nouvelle, in Aude, the centenary port which has 6,000 inhabitants, will experience an impressive facelift.

The Occitanie region, port manager since 2008, wants to build there “An energy transition hub”, according to Jean-Romain Brunet, maritime advisor to the cabinet of the regional presidency. “We have chosen this municipality to prepare the world to come, that of new energies and in anticipation of developments in world trade. All in a disaster area “, He explains.

The region, the sole financier of the works, is putting the resources into it: 233.9 million euros excluding investment taxes, including 199 million for the development of dikes, and 29 million for the development of quays and dredging. Energy transition therefore, with the construction of new quays for the assembly of seven floating tidal turbines (manufactured by Engie), which will then be routed 15 kilometers from the coast, but also a new dyke to accommodate huge oil tankers – 180 meters long. Finally, construction of huge hangars to store hard and soft wheat for export.

Read also Wind turbines, tidal turbines …: where are the marine energies in France?

In all, about 3 km of jetties will emerge from the water: the North dike, the largest, perpendicular to the coast and 2.3 km in length, and the South dike of 600 meters in oblique extension of the current pier. Their construction will require the extraction and transport of 4 million tonnes of quarry material and 11 million m3 of marine sediment.

“If we do nothing, the port is ruined”

For the mayor of the commune, Henri Martin, “After Sète [Hérault] and Marseille, Port-la-Nouvelle has a long history of commerce and fishing. If we do nothing, in a new global context, the port is ruined. Here, we are going to invent a non-polluting site, without factories or smoke, with new generation boats that are much cleaner. ” The elected official specifies that the municipality will participate up to 30 million euros, with the departmental council, for work which should be completed at the end of 2022, carried out mainly by Bouygues, which won most of the calls for tenders on several lots.

The project had so far been consensus, even among elected environmentalists in the region. But at the end of October 2019, a wish proposed at the regional assembly to set up a moratorium, carried by the group of La France insoumise (LFI), cracked the beautiful agreement.


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