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Operation evacuation of a ZAD near Strasbourg

Nearly 200 people were opposed to starting the construction of a 24-kilometer highway, which must bypass the city to the west.

At Kolbsheim, September 10, 2018.

More than 500 mobile gendarmes evacuated at dawn Monday, September 10, some 200 “zadistes” who tried to oppose the start of the construction of a ring road around Strasbourg.

The police intervened to repel with the help of their shields and tear gas a hundred demonstrators massed around this “zone to defend” (ZAD) to the entrance of the village of Kolbsheim, some hundreds of meters away.

Constructions being demolished

The gendarmes attacked with chainsaws at makeshift barricades, made of wood and tires, that the opponents had erected on the departmental road 93 flying over without a break by a helicopter. A gendarme also used a bolt cutter to cut the chain that tied a protester to a tree, while dozens of other law enforcement personnel stood by, near a mill where barricaded protesters.

Two hours after the start of the intervention, the perimeter of the ZAD was cordoned off by the police and, according to several activists, no one was present on the site. “The irregular occupants have been dismissed” and “illegal constructions are being demolished,” confirmed the prefecture in a statement. There was no question, she said.

Dany Karcher, the mayor of Kolbsheim, commune on which the ZAD had been installed for almost a year, and several other elected officials began discussions with the gendarmerie and the secretary general of the Bas-Rhin prefecture, Yves Séguy. “All we ask, is that we postpone any work”, the time that all legal remedies have been tried, said Dany Karcher. “The resistance is there,” said the mayor, denouncing “violence on the side of law enforcement” and the use of tear gas against elected officials.

Project abandoned and relaunched since the 70s

After a one-year suspension of the project, the prefect of the Grand Est region, Jean-Luc Marx, had finally given at the end of August its agreement to the construction by a subsidiary of the group Vinci and Sanef of this motorway bypass 24 kilometers west of Strasbourg.

The great west bypass of Strasbourg (GCO), evoked in the 1970s, regularly abandoned before being relaunched in the late 1990s, aims to offload Highway 35 (A35) by absorbing traffic from north to south of Alsace.

Critics of the project point out that it will lead to the consumption of many farmland and the endangerment of protected species, including the great hamster of Alsace.

Several environmentalists, including the MEP Europe Ecology-Green Yannick Jadot, had called in late August Nicolas Hulot, still Minister of ecological transition, to oppose this “big unnecessary project” and dangerous for the environment, as he had “fought against Notre-Dame-des-Landes”. Work should begin with deforestation and archaeological excavations.

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