Laurent Wauquiez announces the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region’s exit from the “zero net artificialization” system

For the former president of the Republicans, this mechanism would aim to “put under cover the decisions on building permits in rural areas”.

The president of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Laurent Wauquiez (Les Républicains), announced on Saturday September 30 the exit of his region from “zero net artificialization” (ZAN), a system piloted by the regions and which aims to stop the concreteization of soils in 2050. The former president of the Republicans criticized a law “ruralicide”.

“Putting building permit decisions on rural areas under cover means that we are denying ourselves any form of future (…) I have decided that the region is withdrawing from the process. We are doing this in conjunction with the departments with whom we exchanged, he declared in Alpe d’Huez (Isère). This announcement was applauded by the members of the Association of Rural Mayors of France (AMRF), gathered at a congress.

This announcement sparked disapproval from the government. “Rejecting ZAN amounts to refusing to protect agricultural land (…). Refusing ZAN also means ignoring the need to preserve natural spaces, which are home to rich biodiversity and contribute to carbon storage”reacted to AFP Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecological Transition. “Zero net artificialization is not a fad, (…) it is a law”insisted Sarah El Haïry, interviewed by AFP at the MoDem back-to-school days in Guidel (Morbihan). On X (ex-Twitter)the Secretary of State for Biodiversity accused Laurent Wauquiez of showing “populism”. “You are ready to sacrifice the unique landscapes of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region on the altar of a supposed fight for rurality!”she said.

An announcement made on the eve of his national political return

The Climate and Resilience law, adopted in July 2021, entrusts the regions with the task of setting an objective of reducing the concreteization of land through their planning document, to achieve “zero net artificialization” in 2050. To do this, they will have to distribute the reduction effort between the different zones of their regional perimeter, from territorial coherence plans at the department level, to local town planning plans and municipal maps.

Until now discreet on the national political scene, Laurent Wauquiez, who harbors presidential ambitions for 2027, is due to make his national political comeback on Sunday in Valence (Drôme) at the Young Republicans campus. In front of rural mayors, the boss of the region recalled his rural roots, before denouncing a France “two speed” between rich metropolises and impoverished countryside.

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