French court rejects compensation demand from developers Vinci over Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport


A French court has rejected a demand by contstruction company Vinci for nearly 1.6 billion euros from the State for the abandonment of the airport project in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, It has also opened the door to a "termination indemnity" for the group.

"The State did not commit a fault by abandoning, for reasons of general interest, the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project," the court's statement reads.

"The concessionaire company can therefore only claim a termination indemnity and compensation for its loss of earning," the court said in a statement.

"The termination of the concession [of the airport] is justified by reasons of general interest.

"The amount of this indemnity will be determined later: The court will notably take into account the gains obtained by Aéroport du Grand Ouest (AGO) or its shareholder companies by their possible designation as new concessionaires of the current Nantes-Atlantique airport.

A new tender for the project was launched in December.

For its part Vinci said that the legal dispute will continue before the administrative court until it rules on the substance of the case. This is unlikely to happen before  2026 or 2027.

Owned 85% by the French construction group Vinci,  the company was seeking nearly 1.6 billion euros in compensation for the abandonment of the project in January 2018 by the then-government.

As early as 2019, the then transport minister Elisabeth Borne had indicated that the State was negotiating with Vinci for compensation related to the abandonment of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, which Vinci formally denied.

First conceived in the 1960s and revived in 2000, the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, in Loire-Atlantique, has since become a symbol of environmental struggles in France following the occupation of the site by activists, nicknamed the "Zadistes," since 2009.

The Vinci Group manages 12 airports in France, including Lyon-Saint Exupéry, Rennes Bretagne, Toulon-Hyères, and Nantes-Atlantique, and 70 others worldwide, according to its official website.

 (with AFP)