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Dam around a water reservoir in La Clusaz

"Victory", proclaims a sign at the entrance to the "CluZAD", installed by environmental activists to block the site authorized at the end of September by a prefectural decree.

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Dam around a water reservoir in La Clusaz

"Victory", proclaims a sign at the entrance to the "CluZAD", installed by environmental activists to block the site authorized at the end of September by a prefectural decree.

"Ecological struggles are often so much energy for so few victories. It's so precious to have that". Ingrid displays a big smile, at the announcement of the decision of the judge in chambers of the administrative court of Grenoble to suspend this decree.

Nearby, the activists of associations and collectives who have taken legal action to counter the project which they consider useless and harmful to the environment are also enjoying the moment.

“We are relieved,” says Valérie Paumier, from the Résilience Montagne and Sauvons Beauregard collectives. "And we are disappointed for the disappointed because that also means that we have never been able to sit around a table and really discuss the issues of water and the issues of the territory".

The project has raised tensions between supporters and opponents who are also divided by their vision of the mountains, the management of water resources and the future of ski resorts, which are increasingly dependent on snow cannons.

The judge, for his part, considered that "the public interest which stems from the construction of a hill reservoir essentially intended to ensure the artificial snow cover of the station is insufficient to call into question the urgency which is due to the preservation of the environment. nature and the species it shelters" - especially bats and frogs, but also insects, birds and reptiles.

For the mayor of La Clusaz, Didier Thévenet, the order "in no way prejudges the substance of the case" and the project remains "legitimate", "essential" for the village's water supply. He intends to go to cassation to assert his arguments.

- "Balance" -

The elected representative ensures that the majority of the villagers are in favor of the restraint, which is noted in the report of the commission of inquiry. He regrets that opponents have made it a "totem against skiing". Because of the 148,000 m3 planned, a third must be devoted to drinking water, and the rest to the production of artificial snow.

"We need the money generated by the winter" because the resort "is not yet able to live off the 4-season", underlines Joffrey Maistre, a resident member of the Collective of Young Cluses engaged (CJCE), who supports the project on social networks. Like many in La Clusaz, the 25-year-old lives off tourism.

For the defenders of the reservoir, it is the profits generated by the exploitation of the area over the next thirty years, thanks to a sufficient capacity in artificial snow, which will make it possible to finance the necessary transition.

Jean-Christophe Hoff, director of the ski lifts, thus ensures that with a fifth detention, the station would “level up” with its competitors, while the enthusiasm for skiing does not weaken. According to him, the planned facilities were designed with "balance", on "this crest line which is really not obvious between the sustainable on one side, the economy on the other".

For its part, the prefecture recalls that the project was selected for public utility after favorable opinions from the National Council for the Protection of Nature (CNPN), the Environmental Authority, and the public inquiry commission.

The environmentalist camp, he salutes the victory of "those who defend the living". "The future implies a change of direction in the regional policy carried out by Laurent Wauquiez, with the end of subsidies for snow cannons", underlines a press release from the regional group EELV.

"It is indeed the future of the mountains that must be debated and the ability to organize the transition (...) and devote the necessary resources to it to support the creation of new activities", estimates this press release.

For Valérie Paumier, the activist of "Sauvons Beauregard", "the transition is going to be painful for everyone, and the sooner the better".

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