“Zero net artificialisation”, a headache for local authorities


The French Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Christophe Béchu, at the Elysée Palace in Paris on February 22, 2023.

After the pension reform, another debate that risks causing a stir awaits parliamentarians, the “zero net artificialisation”, says ZAN. This objective has existed since the Climate and Resilience Law of August 22, 2021: i.e. zero net artificialisation of the soil by 2050 and, by 2030, a reduction of at least 50% in the total consumption of space observed on the last ten years (before the law).

But if the objective is widely shared, the application of ZAN turns out to be quite complex. As proof, the Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, Christophe Béchu, announced in September 2022, before the National Assembly’s Law Commission, his desire to review certain decrees, recognizing then “that there were a number of blind spots to be clarified”.

The same month, the senators set up a “joint “zero net artificialisation” control mission”, which led to a bill in mid-December, tabled by Jean-Baptiste Blanc, senator (Les Républicains) from Vaucluse, and Valérie Létard, senator (centrist Union) from the North, which will be studied by the Senate in public session on March 14.

“Finding a balance”

The main purpose of this text is to “strengthening community governance”so that the objective of zero land take is piloted “at the level of each municipality or each EPCI (public institution for inter-municipal cooperation) », according to the explanatory memorandum. The challenge for the senators, elected for the most part by local, regional, municipal elected representatives, is to relax the constraints imposed on the municipalities by the prospect of not being able to carry out urban programs or economic activity that consume land. .

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In the meantime, so as not to leave the initiative entirely to the Senate, “where the presidential majority is not very present”analyzes the minister, and to defend the positions of the government, Renaissance deputies worked on another bill, tabled in the Assembly on 14 February. “The challenge is not to despair the territories, but to find a balance between the projects to be supported and the maintained objective of zero net artificialisation in 2050”explained the minister to the World.

While auditioning Christophe Béchu on February 14, Valérie Létard had told him “certain dogmatic aspects” of the Climate and Resilience Law. Although having voted for it, the senators do not fail to criticize it. In his response to the senators, the minister asserted that their text “includes a lot of advancements, also corrected some errors”. But Christophe Béchu also explained to them the points of divergence. Among them, the rural guarantee put forward by the bill, which consists of granting each rural municipality a minimum hectare of land consumption, as “municipal development area”. To this hectare, the Minister prefers that these municipalities be granted 1% of their already artificialized surface, which would be fairer and would respond more to the “real community needs”. That is some 36,000 hectares at the national level, and 22,000 ha if we consider only the sparsely populated or very sparsely populated municipalities.

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