The Bordeaux administrative court of appeal confirmed on Tuesday February 23 the illegality of the artificial lake of Caussade, built by the Lot-et-Garonne chamber of agriculture in the Tolzac valley, in the town of Pinel-Hauterive , near Villeneuve-sur-Lot, to irrigate some twenty farms. The court rejected the request for cancellation of the 2018 withdrawal order ”, filed by the chamber of agriculture and the irrigation union. The courts therefore consider that the cancellation of the prefectural decree authorizing the creation of the withholding is valid.

This decision puts a judicial end to this incredible case commented Alice Terrasse, lawyer for France Nature Environnement (FNE), who highlighted the environmental impact of the water retention and a safety risk for homes located downstream in the event of a break in the dike.

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An opinion that does not share at all Serge Bousquet-Cassagne, president of the chamber of agriculture and of the Rural Coordination of the department: ” The court is not saying that this roadblock is illegal, it just ruled on the prefectural decree. The lake works, it is full, irrigates, meets safety standards and even protected us from this winter’s floods », He maintains.

Funded by farmers

Imagined in the 1980s, it was only in 2017 that the chamber of agriculture asked for a work permit. First granted by the prefect at the time, the decision was then retoked for non-compliance with the European framework directive on water. Despite this, and in the face of other proceedings initiated by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region or the State, work has started, and the 360-meter long reservoir, with a capacity of just under one million cubic meters, was completed in March 2019. Some farmers are now using its water to irrigate their land, especially thanks to the heavy rainfall in winter.

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Since the beginning of the conflict, Serge Bousquet-Cassagne, the strong man of the Rural Coordination, with the high verb, dispensing with the credits of the region, the Adour-Garonne agency and the State, affirms to be in the ” right to the decisions of Parisian ecologists or Brussels bureaucrats “. The structure was entirely built and financed, around one million euros, by the farmers of the department and receives the support of most political actors.

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On July 10, 2020, Serge Bousquet-Cassagne and his vice-president, Patrick Franken, were also sentenced by the Agen criminal court to respectively thirteen and twenty-two months in prison and a fine of 7,000 euros. The appeal trial is expected to be held in May 2021. ” The subject is now political, comments Me Terrace, because the structure still does not meet safety standards.

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